Hyaluronic acid is an important component of articular cartilage, where it is present as a coat around each cell, in the extracellular matrix in tissues. It is used in many medical preparations today.
Most commercially manufactured hyaluronic acid comes from Streptococcus zooepidemicus, a known pathogen. Recently, scientists from the IIT Madras reported overcoming this threat.
Guhan Jayaraman and his team at the Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras metabolically engineered Lactococcus lactis, the bacterium that ferments milk sugar to lactic acid, to produce hyaluronic acid.
Can this be used in biological implants?
“Hyaluronic acid from the bacterial fermentation of L. lactis is bio-compatible”, says Vignesh Muthuvijayan, IIT Madras.
The team chemically cross-linked the hyaluronic acid on hydrolyzed polyethylene terephthalate, commonly known as PET. PET is bio-compatible and does not generate immune reactions. So, it can be used as implants and scaffolds for bio-engineering applications. The team assessed the hemocompatibility of the material and found that it is safe.
Tests by the team show that the surface of the material promotes endothelialization – a favorable condition for an implant to be successful.
They also tested the potential to load medicines on the modified surface and found that the rate of drug release depends on the amount of swelling of hyaluronic acid on the modified PET surface.
The scientists claim that the coating of hyaluronic acid derived from L. lactis is a promising strategy to improve the attachment of endothelial cells to implant surfaces and to deliver drugs to specific tissues.
Carbohydrate Polymers, 206: 132-140 (2019) DOI: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2018.10.099
Sileesh Mullasseri, CUFOS, Kochi