Stitches Made of Chitin…What?!!



Have you ever had stitches? I’ve never had them (thank God) which is really surprising considering how clumsy I am. Someone out there might relate:

When you trip down stairs in public


And you try to act like nothing happened


But then you realize someone saw it all



But I can imagine what it would feel like having needles sewn through my flesh, not a pretty thought.

I was watching one of my lecturer’s vids on Carbohydrates (check out his vid below), and he was talking about how one of the functions of carbohydrates is for structure. Now you may only have heard of cellulose since it’s probably the most popular, but chitin is a structural polysaccharide found in the exoskeletons of insects and crustaceans.

This sugar has various uses but the one that stuck out to me the most was when my lecturer said they were used for sutures.  I don’t know about you, but I had no idea what that meant. So I googled it.

Surgical suture is a medical device used to hold body tissues together after an injury or surgery Application generally involves the use of a needle with an attached length of thread. Basically surgical sutures are stitches.


You read the title right. Some dissolvable stitches are made of chitin. Do you know why? I’ll tell you. Not only is chitin strong and flexible but it also dissolves over time, thus allowing patients to avoid the painful removal of stitches. They dissolve? Is that safe for your body to absorb you might wonder.



The purpose of chitin is to provide support for organisms. The material allows the stability and rigidity, but it also allows flexibility. The body considers chitin a foreign substance so it reacts against it to remove it. An enzyme called chitanase is produced in our body to help breakdown chitin. Hydrolysis separates the individual chitin molecules from each other. One of the more important things that chitin, and its products, could be used for is in treating burn patients. Chitin has a remarkable compatibility with living tissue, and has been looked at for its ability to increase the healing of wounds. Chitin is also the subject of exciting medical experiments. It has been discovered that when applied to human wounds and surgical cloths, it accelerates the skin healing process. An acidic mixture of chitin, when applied to burns, also accelerates the healing process. Left on for a few days, it can heal a third-degree bun completely. It has been shown to support the immune system during certain kinds of illness-blocking procedures.

Wow. Just think about it. The same compound found in insects and crabs can be used to heal wounds, and it’s a carbohydrate!

Blows My Mind.


Check out the vid below if you would like to know more about carbohydrates, I promise you will learn a lot!






5 responses »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s