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Utilization of flax fibers for biomedical applications

Authors

  • Sophie A. A. X. Michel,

    1. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
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  • Ruben R. M. Vogels,

    1. Department of Surgery, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, The Netherlands
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  • Nicole D. Bouvy,

    1. Department of Surgery, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, The Netherlands
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  • Menno L. W. Knetsch,

    1. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
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  • Nynke M. S. van den Akker,

    1. Department of Physiology, Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
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  • Marion J. J. Gijbels,

    1. Department of Pathology within the, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), Maastricht, The Netherlands
    2. Department of Molecular Genetics within the, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), Maastricht, The Netherlands
    3. Department of Medical Biochemistry, Academic Medical Center (AMC), University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Cees van der Marel,

    1. MiPlaza Philips Research Campus, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
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  • Jan Vermeersch,

    1. Van der Bilt Seeds & Flax, Sluiskil, The Netherlands
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  • Daniel G. M. Molin,

    1. Department of Physiology, Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
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  • Leo H. Koole

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
    2. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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  • This study is a part of the Interreg IV-A project “BioMiMedics” (www.biomimedics.org). The Universities of Maastricht (the Netherlands), Liege (Belgium), Hasselt (Belgium), and Aachen (Germany; RWTH and Fachhochschule), as well as several regional biotechnological enterprises cooperate in “BioMiMedics.”

Abstract

Over the past decades, a large number of animal-derived materials have been introduced for several biomedical applications. Surprisingly, the use of plant-based materials has lagged behind. To study the feasibility of plant-derived biomedical materials, we chose flax (Linum usitatissimum). Flax fibers possess excellent physical–mechanical properties, are nonbiodegradable, and there is extensive know-how on weaving/knitting of them. One area where they could be useful is as implantable mesh structures in surgery, in particular for the repair of incisional hernias of the abdominal wall. Starting with a bleached flax thread, a prototype mesh was specifically knitted for this study, and its cytocompatibility was studied in vitro and in vivo. The experimental data revealed that application of flax in surgery first requires a robust method to remove endotoxins and purify the flax fiber. Such a method was developed, and purified meshes did not cause loss of cell viability in vitro. In addition, endotoxins determined using limulus amebocyte lysate test were at acceptable levels. In vivo, the flax meshes showed only mild inflammation, comparable to commercial polypropylene meshes. This study revealed that plant-derived biomaterials can provide a new class of implantable materials that could be used as surgical meshes or for other biomedical applications. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part B: Appl Biomater, 102B: 477–487, 2014.

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