Natural Materials in the design of medicines: Innovative solutions to healthcare challenges
Meeting the future health care needs of a rapidly growing and aging global population is a key area of strategic importance worldwide. One way to address this challenge is by exploiting the abundance of under used natural resources. Plants, bacteria, algae and animals all produce materials that can be extracted and have physical properties that are useful in a wide range of industries such as food, pharmaceutical and biomedicine. A particularly useful class of materials from these natural sources are ‘polysaccharides’ which have traditionally been used as food ingredients. More recently however, these materials have been utilised in pharmaceutical and biomedical applications by providing specific functionality, for example, controlling the release of drugs in pharmaceutical formulations, as components of wound dressings and as scaffolds to grow cells in tissue engineering. This talk will explore the incredibly diverse physicochemical behaviour of polysaccharides from various sources and explain how researchers measure, manipulate and tune the physical behaviour of polysaccharides to develop physiologically responsive materials as potential solutions to current and future healthcare challenges.