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U of M professor looks to help solve dental problem, using material derived from shellfish


Annually, the average American eats over four pounds of shrimp, according to The New York Times.

Yet few of us realize that on the exoskeleton of these creatures — and some of their crustacean cousins — is a material called chitosan, which has an array of potential uses. And a University of Memphis biomedical engineering professor, Joel Bumgardner, Ph.D., believes it can help improve treatment for a widespread dental disease.

In 2021, his team secured a patent for a strategy that keeps the nanofibers intact once they’re in the mouth. They’ve partnered with dentists at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), who have provided feedback and explained what their expectations for the material would be. They’ve done some small animal studies with rats — though not in their mouths — and intend to do larger animal studies with pigs.

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