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Starch fibres could make for 'painless' bandages

United States America,Lifestyle/Fashion,Science/Tech, Thu, 03 May 2012 IANS

Washington, May 3 (IANS) A new method of spinning starch into fine strands could help make painless bandages as well as low cost and more eco-friendly toilet paper, napkins and other products, says a study.


"There are many applications for starch fibres," said Lingyan Kong, graduate student, food science at the Penn State University. "Starch is the most abundant and also the least expensive of natural polymers."


Kong, who worked with Greg Ziegler, professor of food science, Penn State, used a solvent to dissolve the starch into a fluid that can then be spun into long strands or fibres.


They can be combined and formed into paper-like mats similar to napkins, tissues and other types of paper products, according to a university statement.


Once the process is scaled to industrial size, companies could make bandages and other medical dressings using starch fibres.


Unlike bandages that are currently on the market that must be -- often painfully -- removed, starch bandages would degrade into glucose, a substance the body safely absorbs.


"Starch is easily biodegradable, so bandages made from it would, over time, be absorbed by the body. So, you wouldn't have to remove them," said Kong.


Starch does not completely dissolve in water but instead becomes a gel -- or, starch paste -- that is too thick to make fibres. To solve the problem, the researchers added a solvent to help the solution dissolve the starch, but not destroy its molecular structure, Kong added.


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