University of Hyderabad, Department of Plant Sciences has been an active part in an international consortium supported by the European Union (EU). Research group of Prof. Appa Rao Podile, a senior faculty member in the Department of Plant Sciences and currently the Vice Chancellor of the University of Hyderabad has been one among the eight academic partners, along with 14 others (big or small/medium enterprises) of this international consortium to work on “NanoBioEngineering of BioInspired BioPolymers” – in short referred to as “Nano3Bio”.

While the oil is slowly but surely running out, renewable resources are becoming increasing important. The biological production of raw materials has to play an even greater role to meet the needs in an environmentally friendly-manner. Nano3Bio attempted to address this challenge to some extent. The goal of the consortium was the biotechnological production of chitosans, which are used as raw materials for medicine, agriculture, water treatment, cosmetics, paper and textile industries as well as many other fields of application.

To tap this potential, the European Commission supported the research project “Nano3Bio” with a total of almost 9 million Euros (approximately Rs. 75 crores) for four years that started in October 2013 ending on 30thSept. 2017. Prof. Bruno M. Moerschbacher successfully led the consortium as project coordinator for the past four years. In addition to University of Hyderabad, India, research institutes as well as companies from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden were involved. The partners of the consortium met in School of Life Sciences for the past two days for their final general assembly meeting during 18th and 19th September. The consortium planned to announce its achievements through a day long dissemination meeting on 20th September 2017 at Savitribai Phule Auditorium, University of Hyderabad.

The biotechnological quality of chitosans is at least as diverse as their applications. For example, one specific chitosan is suitable for finishing seeds to protect them pests and diseases, and to yield richer harvests. Another one is acting as anti-microbial, film-forming agent in spray plaster accelerating scar-free wound healing. In medical applications, specific chitosans can ensure the transport of drugs to their target sites, e.g. in the brain or in cancer cells. Furthermore, the researchers assume that many other fields of application will be found in which a specific chitosan can replace or support other substances. For many applications, this is a highly promising prospect since one of the good qualities of chitosans lies in the fact that they are well tolerated by the human body and easily biodegradable in the environment.

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