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Development of a physico-chemical process to minimize / eliminate the effects of allergenic proteins from products based on natural rubber


The natural rubber extracted from the rubber tree Hevein Brasiliensis has a variety of properties of interest that can lead to different applications where there is contact with the human body, such as gloves, condoms, occlusive membranes, nipple protectors, carrier systems and adhesives. In addition to being a renewable material and of low processing cost, many of its properties cannot be replaced by synthetic rubbers. Recent studies have shown that the combination of solubilization processes, purification and heat treatments of natural rubber can lead to new properties such as the ability to encapsulate micro and nanoparticles, adhere strongly to ceramic-metallic substrates and transition between different wetting regimes relatively easily. More recently, a study showed that composites based on rubber and calcium phosphate have characteristics similar to cartilage and can be used as a biomaterial, which expands the range of applications in medical areas. There is, however, a current limitation for applications of latex-based products in people with allergies to some types of proteins naturally present in the material. This is a challenge that has not yet been fully resolved in terms of research and processing of natural rubber. This project aims to develop a physical-chemical process capable of deactivating the allergenic proteins of products based on natural latex and increasing the cytocompatibility of the material. For this, samples of the rubber will be subjected to surface functionalization through a treatment in simulated body fluid in order to modify the surface charge and surface energy without significantly altering the surface morphology and its mechanical properties. Zeta potential measurements will be carried out in order to characterize and monitor changes in surface loads on surfaces before and after treatments. Cell culture tests will be performed on the samples before and after treatments. During the technical feasibility stage, the results should culminate in increasing the cytocompatibility of natural rubber samples, both freshly extracted samples and those obtained from commercial products, such as surgical gloves. The results of technical feasibility will be evaluated in terms of potential economic values based on an approximation with the industrial sector. These results should both direct the Company's business in technology of physical-chemical processes, particularly applied in medical areas, as well as putting the Company in evidence in the natural rubber processing market. The impact on the market can occur because it is a topic of great scientific and technological importance, as it is also inserted in the priorities of any country, since products based on latex are used worldwide. Thus, the relevance of this segment in the Company is in generating real benefits to society and the scientific importance comes from the fact that the allergenic effects of natural rubber is still a problem for part of the population in Brazil and in the world. (AU)

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