In 2021, University of Georgia's lecturer, Dr. Fariborz Sharifian Jazi’s articles titled "Chitosan films and scaffolds for regenerative medicine applications: A review" and "Advancements in Fabrication and Application of Chitosan Composites in Implants and Dentistry: A Review" were published, respectively in Carbohydrate Polymers (Elsevier, IF: 9.3) and Biomolecules (MDPI, IF: 4.8). We asked him some questions about those publications. Here are his responses.
1. What impact can this research have on human life?
Biomaterials science is interdisciplinary in nature, incorporating medicine, biology, chemistry, tissue engineering, and materials science components. The use of biomaterials can significantly improve the quality of human life while lowering societal and economic costs connected with healthcare and life expectancy. It can detect pathological problems earlier, minimize the harshness of therapy, and result in a better therapeutic outcome for the patient. Scientists demand particular biomaterials that are biodegradable, biocompatible, and capable of adhering to and developing cells. The substance must also be non-toxic, mechanically similar to the replacement tissue, and easily manufactured. Natural materials, especially natural polymer composites, typically already meet these criteria, making them ideal for human usage.
In this research, we focused on applying chitosan composites as natural polymer-based materials for regenerative medicine, implants, and dentistry.
2. How exactly is the research subject connected to these issues?
Due to their biodegradability, low toxicity, and biocompatibility, chitosan and chitin have a wide range of applications. The future biomedical applications of chitosan and chitin are due to their unique properties, including minimal immunogenicity, antibacterial, and antifungal activity. The first article discusses some of the available functionalized methodologies for modifying multiple natural chitosan (CSS) and summarizes their applications in pharmaceutical fields such as regenerative medicine, drug delivery, wound healing, and tissue engineering. It also discusses recent advances in medical fields and biodegradability. The other article discusses the fabrication of chitosan films and scaffolds, their modification, and the relationship between the structure, activity, and application of chitosan films in various biomedical applications. This novel methodology can assist researchers in determining the most effective procedures for preparing and modifying materials to achieve desired characteristics and functional applications.
3. How can students get involved in this field, and why should they do so?
Biomaterials science encompasses elements of medicine, chemistry, biology, tissue engineering, and materials science. Accordingly, students in different fields of study can be involved in this field.
The compelling, human aspect of this field is that millions of lives are saved, and millions more have their quality of life improved. It has a significant impact on human health, the economy, and a wide variety of scientific subjects. Biomaterials is a field that dates back around 60–70 years (or young); therefore, there is a long way ahead of scientists to explore and develop novel and functional materials. Students in this field can conduct innovative projects resulting in outstanding outcomes that can be noticed and published in high-impact prestigious international journals. This field can be attractive for students who are eager to develop new ideas beneficial for human health and well-being.
4. What were the main challenges and skills involved in conducting this research?
The main challenge for conducting the research was that all authors should have sufficient knowledge about chitosan and its applications, which was realized by studying various sources e.g. Reference Books, Chapter Books, Encyclopedia, Publications, etc. Another challenge authors faced was the classification of the context they wanted to review. A large amount of text should be collected, reordered, and summarized in several pages having clear and simple language. Previous work conducted by the authors made them skillful to write both articles.
Various experts can study aspects of this field, and different skills can be involved. For example, simulation of the biological behavior of biomaterials can be carried out by Mechanical Engineers and Mathematics students familiar with developing computational codes or analytical solutions. On the other hand, Materials Science, Biology, and Chemistry students can do the synthesis and characterization of these materials. They must be up to date about different synthesis methods suitable for other materials and characterization techniques such as XRD, SEM, TEM, FTIR, and various in vitro and in-vivo analyses. The most critical skill required for almost all research areas is thinking critically, finding solutions for problems, and analyzing the obtained data.
5. What made you interested in researching this subject?
Conducting research and publishing numerous papers in the field of bioactive glass and drug delivery, which helps improve treatment methods for various diseases and leads to human well-being, we thought about new composites, especially natural-based ones as biomaterials, to develop new composites and new functional materials with low toxicity and high effectiveness.
6. Could you tell us about your collaborators?
In the first article, "Advancements in Fabrication and Application of Chitosan Composites in Implants and Dentistry: A Review," I collaborated with Dr. Samad Khaksar, a faculty member of The University of Georgia and head of a department of pharmaceutical chemistry. Other contributors including Mr. Amirhossein Esmaeilkhanian, Dr. Leila Bazli, Mr. Peyman Salahshour, etc. help to collect and classify the context for having a clear and complete text.
In the second article, "Chitosan films and scaffolds for regenerative medicine applications: A review," I had a collaboration with Dr. Ehsan Salehi, who is a faculty member of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Arak University. In addition, Dr. Farnoush Sadat Rezaei and Mr. Amirhossein Esmaeilkhanian also contributed significantly to collecting and ordering the text of the article.
7. What feedback has this particular research received so far?
We have received several proposals for joint research programs from universities in Australia. We have also been invited to contribute articles to some journals and conferences. In addition, some publishers asked us to write book chapters related to this topic area. Also, we received invitations to give a talk at several conferences. These provided us with new opportunities to have effective collaborations in the future.
8. What additional support did this research receive?
I want to express my gratitude to The University of Georgia for its assistance. A laboratory is being built in The University of Georgia, School of Science and Technology, equipped with synthesis and characterization facilities for nanomaterials and biomaterials development to conduct future research at this institution.