Cellulose, Chitosan, and Keratin Composite Materials. Controlled Drug Release
A method was developed in which cellulose (CEL) and/or chitosan (CS) were added to keratin (KER) to enable [CEL/CS+KER] composites to have better mechanical strength and wider utilization. Butylmethylimmidazolium chloride ([BMIm+Cl–]), an ionic liquid, was used as the sole solvent, and because the [BMIm+Cl–] used was recovered, the method is green and recyclable. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy results confirm that KER, CS, and CEL remain chemically intact in the composites. Tensile strength results expectedly show that adding CEL or CS into KER substantially increases the mechanical strength of the composites. We found that CEL, CS, and KER can encapsulate drugs such as ciprofloxacin (CPX) and then release the drug either as a single or as two- or three-component composites. Interestingly, release rates of CPX by CEL and CS either as a single or as [CEL+CS] composite are faster and independent of concentration of CS and CEL. Conversely, the release rate by KER is much slower, and when incorporated into CEL, CS, or CEL+CS, it substantially slows the rate as well. Furthermore, the reducing rate was found to correlate with the concentration of KER in the composites. KER, a protein, is known to have secondary structure, whereas CEL and CS exist only in random form. This makes KER structurally denser than CEL and CS; hence, KER releases the drug slower than CEL and CS. The results clearly indicate that drug release can be controlled and adjusted at any rate by judiciously selecting the concentration of KER in the composites. Furthermore, the fact that the [CEL+CS+KER] composite has combined properties of its components, namely, superior mechanical strength (CEL), hemostasis and bactericide (CS), and controlled drug release (KER), indicates that this novel composite can be used in ways which hitherto were not possible, e.g., as a high-performance bandage to treat chronic and ulcerous wounds.