N-acetylglucosamineChitin is a polysaccharide found in large quantities in the shells of crabs, shrimp, and other crustaceans; in the exoskeletons of insects; and in the cell walls of bacteria. It is a white powder with a chemical structure similar to that of cellulose.
Although chitin, from sources such as crab shells, is naturally produced on Earth to the tune of some 100 billion tons per year, almost all of this resource is said to go unused. Since the late 1970s, we have been engaged in research to explore ways of using crab shells that are a by-product of the production of crab extract. As a result of this research, we succeeded in refining chitin and chitosan, and subsequently went on to develop various types of oligosaccharides.
|Because chitin has superior biocompatibility, it is used in an array of applications such as suture thread, wound dressing materials, and antiseptic and deodorizing fibers. Also, we are moving forward with research to investigate the substance's potential for use in humectants, anti-cancer agents, serum cholesterol lowering agents, and nonpolluting agricultural chemicals.|