Scientists Turn Durian Husks Into Antibacterial Bandage

Durian husk made into antibacterial bandage

Who would think that a smelly and non-appetizing fruit to most people can become a lifesaver? Singapore scientists invented an odor-free and eco-friendly antibacterial bandage from durian husks to help wounds heal faster. The rind contains many organic chemical compounds such as saponins, tannins, alkaloids, phenolics, and flavonoids. 

Each year, Singapore consumes nearly 12 million durians. The husks and seeds are inedible and mostly go to waste, adding to the pollution. It is why scientists at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) address food scraps, particularly durian husks. They turned the husk of the stinky fruit (but with a delightful taste) into antibacterial bandages.

How are Antibacterial Bandages Made?

The process involves extracting cellulose powder from the husks after slicing and dried-freezing them. The mixture turns into a soft hydrogel with glycerol and is then cut into bandage strips. The baker’s yeast compounds treat the strips, which have antibacterial properties. 

Professor William Chen said, “In Singapore, we consume about 12 million durians a year, so besides the flesh, we can’t do much about the husk and the seeds, and this causes environmental pollution.”

He added that the breakthrough could also transform other food wastes, including spent grains and soybeans, into a hydrogel to produce antibacterial bandages. These organo-hydrogel bandages accelerate healing by keeping the wound area colder and moist.  At the same time, it reduces the country’s problem of food wastes. 

Hydrogels are not soluble polymers that provide a moist area for cell migration and soak up dampness. It expands in water and is available in sheet hydrogel-impregnated dressings or amorphous gel. 

He used organic soybean hydrogel in flexible, wearable, and stretchable electronics such as smartwatches and fitness bands. Along with his food scientists, they used cellulose extricated from okara to unfold a prototype hydrogel to conduct electrical signals.

According to the researchers, waste materials and yeast for making antibacterial bandages are more economical. On the other hand, the manufacture of conventional dressings is costlier. It’s because the antimicrobial properties contain silver or copper ions

Clinical Advantages of Antibacterial Bandage

Antibacterial bandages are non-toxic and rehydrate the wound bed. It enables the body enzymes, including natural fluids, to soften harmful tissues and eliminate them. They contain complex hydrophyllic polymers with 90% water content. It rehydrates dark scars or scabs and helps in the breakdown of damaged tissues.

The natural yeast phenolics contained in the hydrogel antibacterial bandage help hinder the bacterial growth of Gram-positive S. aureus and Gram-negative E. coli. The compounds also prevent successive biofilm formation. It is a sheet of slime that can result in antimicrobial resistance in a bacteria colony.  

The Singaporean scientists tested the antibacterial bandage on animal skin as a wound dressing. It proved to have better antimicrobial effects for up to two days. The added natural yeast phenolics made it lethal to bacteria.

A 3-kilogram durian can derive 200 grams of husk powder, where 40 grams consist of pure cellulose. The 40 grams are sufficient to produce 66 pieces of 7×7 centimeters of antibacterial bandage or hydrogel. It can make 1,600 plasters with a measurement of 1cm by 2cm each. 

Chen and his team are already in talks with possible industry partners to learn the feasibility of expanding the production of the antibacterial bandages. The product will fill store shelves in two years if all things go smoothly. Expect that the price is competitive right from the start of the sale.