Kolkata: Indian scientists have tapped into Assam’s durable Muga silk to craft sutures, to sew up wounds, that have the potential for fast and efficient healing.

Muga, popularly known as golden silk due to its glossy texture, is found in some parts of Assam and is a product of the Antheraea assamensis silkworm (. The fibre has the highest tensile strength among all natural silks and is known for its durability.

Scientists in Assam have modified the silk fibre with polypropylene — a versatile substance that is commercially used in making surgical sutures in addition to applications in packaging, textiles, and housewares.

“We grafted polypropylene on Muga [made of silk fibroin protein] by plasma processing and successfully produced sutures suitable for swift wound-healing. It is the best of all the sutures produced,” Joyanti Chutia, emeritus scientist and former director of the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), at Guwahati, told IANS on phone.

“The biomaterial was degraded inside the system and wound-healing was observed within a few days,” Chutia added.

Healing of the wound was observed in rabbits in the study conducted jointly with scientists from Assam Agricultural University and the Laser and Plasma Technology Division of Mumbai’s Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.

The additions improved the physical and mechanical qualities of the fibre making it ideal for sutures, Chutia said.

“Because of the processing, the Muga silk exhibited good anti-bacterial property due to enhanced hydrophobic or water-repellent effect, which is one of the most important facets for sutures,” she added.

Also, the method used to fabricate these sutures is environment-friendly and non-hazardous, the scientist said. The researchers have applied for a patent this year.

The focus is now on furthering the drug delivery aspect of the biomaterial, Chutia said.

Amit K. Dinda, professor in the pathology department at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medicine Sciences (AIIMS), said the new suture material could be an important step in developing indigenous materials.

“For India, sutures are very important. This will be a good suture material. If this material passes the strict guidelines, then it could be a very good thing. It also has to be cost-effective since most suture materials are imported,” Dinda, president of the Indian Society of Renal and Transplant Pathology, told IANS.