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In the truest sense of the word: excellent research
Heal wounds more effectively with bacteria-based wound dressings that release active ingredients over a period of seven days, as well as an active ingredient that can relieve anxiety and depression, which is derived from psychoactive mushrooms known as “magic mushrooms”. These are two new healing methods that have recently been awarded a coveted science award.
The PHOENIX Pharmacy Science Award went to the Friedrich Schiller University Jena in two of four awards. The two research groups prevailed in completely different categories. On the one hand, a biomaterial was selected that is produced by acetic acid bacteria and can be used as a wound dressing. On the other hand, a method was honored with which the active ingredient psilocybin can be produced from the “magic mushrooms” in a test tube and is thus accessible to the pharmaceutical industry.
Will bacteria produce the patch of the future?
Nanocellulose is the name of the highly stable and promising biomaterial that is produced by acetic acid bacteria. "Nanocellulose consists of a three-dimensional network of 20 to 100 nanometer thick fibers, is highly stable, very heat-resistant and absolutely tolerable for humans", explains research director Professor Dr. Dagmar Fischer the advantages of the biomaterial in a press release. In addition, the large area of matter offers enormous storage capacity for various active ingredients.
Success through optimization
Nanocellulose is not a new discovery by the team, but the researchers have succeeded in optimizing the biomaterial so that it can be used for medical purposes. Because nano-cellulose is 99 percent water, it was difficult to regulate the release of the active ingredients, the research team reports. "We have incorporated the polymer poloxamer in the form of micelles and gel structures into the bacterial nanocellulose, creating a hybrid system that can release the antiseptic active ingredient octenidine for up to a week in a controlled manner," explains the professor, explaining the solution.
What can nanocellulose be used for?
As the researchers report, active substances can be integrated into the innovative biomaterial, which are then released over a period of up to seven days. "On this basis, modern wound dressings can be produced, which have to be changed less frequently and thus mean less stress for the patient as well as time and cost savings in everyday clinical practice," emphasizes Fischer.
How “Magic Mushrooms” Contribute to the Research Award
The second award went to the research group led by Professor Dr. Dirk Hoffmeister. The team focused on the substance psilocybin, from the psychoactive mushrooms commonly known as “magic mushrooms”. "We are dealing with the molecule psilocybin - a substance that is known primarily for its hallucinogenic effects and is regulated by the Narcotics Act," says Hoffmeister.
Cure Anxiety and Depression Using Psychoactive Mushrooms?
In fact, studies have shown that the hallucinogenic mushrooms can treat depression. "Clinical studies have already shown that psilocybin, for example, helps therapy-resistant depression and can relieve anxiety disorders in cancer patients," Hoffmeister explains the advantages of the drug, which has fallen into disrepute. The team around Hoffmeister deciphered how the mushroom produces the active ingredient psilocybin.
"Magic Mushrooms" from the test tube
"We have clarified which mechanisms and metabolic processes take place and know the genes of the fungus and the enzymes with which it produces the substance from a protein block," reports the professor. The team then developed a method in which genetically modified microorganisms produce the active substance psilocybin in large quantities in the laboratory. So you can produce psilocybin on a large scale. This is the prerequisite for pharmaceutical interest to develop in the active ingredient, Hoffmeister sums up. (vb)