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Introductive remark to the Special Issue “Chitosan for the Future” published in Reactive and Functional Polymers: Editorial

Abstract : Since its identification in fungi by Braconnot in 1811, chitin (and its deacetylated form: chitosan) has retained great attention from the research community because of its unique properties. Structural component of the cell wall of fungi, and the shell of insects and crustaceans, chitin can be de-N-acetylated by chemical or enzymatic procedures to produce a wide family of chitins and chitosans whose properties are strongly controlled by the degree of acetylation (FA), polydispersity of the molecular weight and, last not least, the crystallinity. For the production of chitooligosaccharides, partial depolymerization can be performed likewise with chemical or enzymatic methods. Recent studies have also highlighted the importance of not only the acetylation patterns (blockwise and random distribution of N-acetylglucosamine and glucosamine) but also its polydispersity of FA (ÐFA). The pioneering and invaluable work of Prof. Kjell M. Vårum (from Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim) and Prof. George A.F. Roberts (University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, UK) laid the basis for understanding these critical issues. More and more researchers, including also those from the life sciences are becoming aware of the importance of correlating structure and materials as well as biological properties. The source of chitin and chitosan (fungal biomass, shrimp and squid) may also influence the physico-chemical properties of the biopolymers and their application). However, despite this intense research activity around chitin and chitosan there is still a need for developing standard methods of characterization for producing reproducible stocks of biopolymer and for securing industrial applications. The development of reliable and accessible methods for their characterization is thus a critical point for future development in chitin & chitosan sciences and for effective transfer to industry. Sophisticated analytical methods are becoming available for full characterization of polymers and oligomers. This special issue of Reactive and Functional Polymers is dedicated to the memory of two of the most eminent chitin/chitosan scientists, George A.F. Roberts († 2018) and Kjell M. Vårum († 2017). It opens a wide window on potential applications of chitin and chitosan in advanced applications covering biology and medicine (antioxidant and antibacterial properties, biomaterials for tissue engineering, hydrogels as drugs, genes and vaccines delivery vehicles, and for therapeutic treatments), agriculture (plant protection and growth regulators), environment (wastewater treatment and metal recovery), and sensors (electrodeposition for chitosan self-assembly and patterning). It is still a long way to go from nutraceuticals to medicines, and the articles collected in this issue contribute to pave the way to be followed in the future.
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Submitted on : Monday, June 28, 2021 - 5:20:22 PM
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Guibal Eric, Jacques Desbrieres, Malgorzata M. Jaworsk, Peter G. Martin, Bruno Sarmento. Introductive remark to the Special Issue “Chitosan for the Future” published in Reactive and Functional Polymers: Editorial. Reactive and Functional Polymers, Elsevier, 2021, 164, pp.104914. ⟨10.1016/j.reactfunctpolym.2021.104914⟩. ⟨hal-03272958⟩

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