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Non-random chitosans



Last update

Thu, Jan, 16, 2020


Mon, Jul, 27, 2020


A German university offers a new process for the preparation of non-random chitosan polymers. These are characterized by a defined pattern of acetylation and increased biocompatibility. Applications are manifold, e.g. in biomedicine, agriculture, cosmetics and food industry. Industrial partners from these sectors are sought for license agreements.


Chitosans are a family of functional biopolymers, typically produced by partial de-N-acetylation of chitin, one of the most abundant biopolymers in the world. The unique polycationic nature of chitosans is at least partially responsible for the many bioactivities of chitosans, such as their antimicrobial, plant-strengthening and wound-healing activities, which make them extremely valuable compounds for applications in biomedicine, agriculture, cosmetics and in the food industry. These bioactivities are deeply influenced by the degree of acetylation of the chitosan used.

As an example, chitosans with a low degree of acetylation, and, as a consequence, with a relatively high density of positive charges, are particularly interesting, for example, in form of nanoparticles for drug, gene or vaccine delivery. However, the degradation of such chitosans in the human body is very slow or inexistent, as humans do not possess chitosanases, i.e. enzymes that cleave the glycosidic linkage between two adjacent GlcN (glucosamine) units. Thus, they are found to be hardly or even not approvable by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medical purposes.

Humans do possess chitinases and lysozyme, i.e. enzymes that hydrolyse the chitosan polymer chain within a stretch of two or three adjacent GlcNAc (N-acetylglucosamine) residues, respectively. But as conventional chitosans are characterised by random patterns of acetylation, such acetylated stretches which could serve as cleavage sites are rare.

The present invention of a German university relates to a process for the preparation of a non-random chitosan polymer. It is derived by using a deacetylase enzyme in the presence of acetate ions under conditions that allow acetylation of the poly-D-glucosamine by said chitin deacetylase. Thus a chitosan polymer is obtained that presents a defined, e.g. blockwise or more regular pattern of acetylation so that e.g. even chitosans with low degree of acetylation are more easily degraded by human enzymes. These are just some of the advantages that can be created compared to chitosans with undefined acetylation patterns.

Industrial partners are sought to implement the process wherever the antimicrobial, plant-strengthening and wound-healing features are required. This could be in biomedicine, agriculture, cosmetics and food industry. License agreements are targeted.

Technology Keywords

Medical Biomaterials;Micro- and Nanotechnology related to Biological sciences;Biopolymers;Food Microbiology / Toxicology / Quality Control

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Intellectual Property Rights

Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted

IPR Comments:

International patent applied

Exploitation of RTD Results

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MA Keyword

Other medical/health related (not elsewhere classified);Food and feed ingredients;Polymer (plastics) materials

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The university offers license agreements for the invention to interested companies. Partners could be active in biomedicine, agriculture, cosmetics and in the food industry. They should implement this technology in their processes.

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