Microbial Exopolysaccharide Composites in Biomedicine and Healthcare: Trends and Advances
Microbial exopolysaccharides (EPSs), e.g., xanthan, dextran, gellan, curdlan, etc., have significant applications in several industries (pharma, food, textiles, petroleum, etc.) due to their biocompatibility, nontoxicity, and functional characteristics. However, biodegradability, poor cell adhesion, mineralization, and lower enzyme activity are some other factors that might hinder commercial applications in healthcare practices. Some EPSs lack biological activities that make them prone to degradation in ex vivo, as well as in vivo environments. The blending of EPSs with other natural and synthetic polymers can improve the structural, functional, and physiological characteristics, and make the composites suitable for a diverse range of applications. In comparison to EPS, composites have more mechanical strength, porosity, and stress-bearing capacity, along with a higher cell adhesion rate, and mineralization that is required for tissue engineering. Composites have a better possibility for biomedical and healthcare applications and are used for 2D and 3D scaffold fabrication, drug carrying and delivery, wound healing, tissue regeneration, and engineering. However, the commercialization of these products still needs in-depth research, considering commercial aspects such as stability within ex vivo and in vivo environments, the presence of biological fluids and enzymes, degradation profile, and interaction within living systems. The opportunities and potential applications are diverse, but more elaborative research is needed to address the challenges. In the current article, efforts have been made to summarize the recent advancements in applications of exopolysaccharide composites with natural and synthetic components, with special consideration of pharma and healthcare applications.