A team of researchers from Poland’s Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń have developed a new kind of material from algae that can be used to improve medicines and cosmetics. The project is considered to be so important to the development of medical science that the team has been granted a prestigious 21 million zloty grant from the Foundation of Polish Science.
The special material comes from algae found in most aquatic environments, and measures about 10 micro meters in diameter, or one hundredth of a millimetre. The advantage of these cells, called diatoms, is their folded, gap laden structure.
“Diatoms have the phenomenal ability to synthesise amorphous silica with a complex, three-dimensional, openwork nanostructure. The main elements building these systems are silicon and oxygen,” explains Professor Boguslaw Buszewski, part of the team working on the project.
While the research team believes that the material’s most immediate use will be in medical dressings, plans for future use include the transportation of drugs through the blood stream direct to a tumour.