Two AgResearch scientists explain how wool products are traced and how wool proteins are using in wound dressings.
Listen to this RNZ programme, Wool in wound dressings, to find out more.
Steve Ranford explains to Alison Ballance that wool traceability is important for protecting the quality and branding of New Zealand wool products because wool from other countries may be masquerading as New Zealand wool. He uses the science of isotope measurement – isotopes give a signature for a specific place, for example, the North Island has a different signature from the South Island.
Comparing isotope signatures
A sample of wool is taken down to very low temperatures (-196°C), then pulverised into a finely powdered sample that is put into a mass spectrometer. The spectrometer determines the levels of the isotopes, which are compared with the isotopes standard that is controlled by the scientific community. Using the example of a scarf made from Natural Easy Care wool fabric, Steve explains that the isotopes from the scarf sample are measured to determine whether it has the same signature as wool from Otago.
Wool protein wound dressings
Alison talks to Azam Ali about creating biomaterials from wool. Wool protein biomacromolecules are processed and reconstituted to create an advanced matrix structure, which retains unique physical, biological and bioactive characteristics. These products have unique and specific bioactive functionalities that accelerate wound-healing processes and tissue growth. Two of the products are already commercially available.
Azam is working collaboratively with the Otago Medical School to develop a medical suture from milk-based proteins and other biocompatible polymers. These sutures will contain mechanical strength as well as bioactive functionalities to allow the wound to heal faster.
Programme details: Our Changing World