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ISRN Materials Science
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 983062, 20 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/983062
Review Article

Natural Products: A Minefield of Biomaterials

1Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife 220282, Nigeria
2Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Federal University of Technology, Akure 340252, Nigeria

Received 16 November 2011; Accepted 5 January 2012

Academic Editor: E. Burkel

Copyright © 2012 Oladeji O. Ige et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The development of natural biomaterials is not regarded as a new area of science, but has existed for centuries. The use of natural products as a biomaterial is currently undergoing a renaissance in the biomedical field. The major limitations of natural biomaterials are due to the immunogenic response that can occur following implantation and the lot-to-lot variability in molecular structure associated with animal sourcing. The chemical stability and biocompatibility of natural products in the body greatly accounts for their utilization in recent times. The paper succinctly defines biomaterials in terms of natural products and also that natural products as materials in biomedical fields are considerably versatile and promising. The various types of natural products and forms of biomaterials are highlighted. Three main areas of applications of natural products as materials in medicine are described, namely, wound management products, drug delivery systems, and tissue engineering. This paper presents a brief history of natural products as biomaterials, various types of natural biomaterials, properties, demand and economic importance, and the area of application of natural biomaterials in recent times.