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Biomaterials. 2004 Aug;25(18):4255-62.

Novel approach to fabricate keratin sponge scaffolds with controlled pore size and porosity.

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  • 1Department of Bioapplied Chemistry, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka City University, 3-3-138, Sugimoto, Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka 558-8585, Japan.


A compression-molding/particulate-leaching (CM/PL) method was developed to fabricate S-sulfo keratin sponges with the controlled pore size and porosity. The S-sulfo keratin was extracted from wool and was then spray-dried to give S-sulfo keratin powder. The S-sulfo keratin powder mixed with urea in advance was compression-molded together with the sieved NaCl particulates above the melting temperature of urea. The following removal of the salts and urea in water created the sponges composed of interconnected pores and the continuous S-sulfo keratin matrix. The S-sulfo keratin sponges were strong enough to handle and water-insoluble. By contrast, the sponges prepared without urea were very fragile and readily collapsed, because most of S-sulfo keratin matrix remained powdery. The pore size was in good accordance with the size of the salts, indicating that the pores were formed by leaching-out the salts. The S-sulfo keratin sponges with the regulated sizes of pores (<100, 100-300 and 300-500 microm) were fabricated, all of which had more than 90% of the porosity. Thus, CM/PL method is able to give the S-sulfo keratin sponge with the desired pore size and porosity, which might be a good scaffold for the cells in tissue engineering.

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