After the holidays wind down, millions of Christmas trees across the country will be headed to the landfill or the wood chipper. But not so fast! That stately conifer could be put to good use in the field of medicine. A paper published in the show evidence that the needles of Pseudotsuga menziesii, aka the Douglas fir, may be able to help sterilize nano devices destined for the human body.
A team of researchers led by chemist Poushpi Dwivedi of MNNIT in Allahabad, India are in the process of developing a compound derived from the needles of the Douglas fir to help coat nano medical devices and combat infection. One of the largest hurdles for biomedical devices is that despite advances in sterilization techniques, bacteria can still invade implant sites, prosthetics, and tissues. The bionanocomposite from the Douglas fir could potentially cover implants and ward off microbial growth.
Combining an extract from from the Douglas fir needles with silver nitrate solution, the team has created silver nanoparticles that can then be dispersed in a chitosan polymer to make a coating. The needle extract serves as a natural chemical reducing agent that converts the silver ions in the nitrate solution into tiny nanoscopic silver metal particles. So, as you vacuum the needles from your living room floor, say a small “thank you” to your tree, as it may some day play a large part in saving your life.
Via Science Daily
Images via Wikicommons users Geograph Bot and Magnus Mankse