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Fluids 2016, 1(2), 6; doi:10.3390/fluids1020006

Natural Drag-Reducing Polymers: Discovery, Characterization and Potential Clinical Applications

McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Bioengineering, and Departments of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, 450 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA
Current Affiliation: Engineering Technology and Commonwealth Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University New Kensington, New Kensington, PA 15068, USA.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Mehrdad Massoudi
Received: 4 January 2016 / Revised: 21 March 2016 / Accepted: 26 April 2016 / Published: 6 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rheology and the Thermo-Mechanics of Non-Newtonian Fluids)
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About seven decades ago, it was discovered that special long-chain soluble polymers added to fluid at nanomolar concentrations significantly reduce resistance to turbulent flow (Toms effect). These so-called drag-reducing polymers (DRPs) do not affect resistance to laminar flow. While the flow parameters associated with the Toms effect do not occur in the cardiovascular system, many later studies demonstrated that intravenous injections of DRPs given to experimental animals produced significant hemodynamic effects, such as increasing tissue perfusion, suggesting potential clinical use of these polymers. Moreover, it was found that the specific viscoelastic properties of these polymers make them capable of modifying traffic of blood cells in microvessels and beneficially redistributing them in the blood capillary system—a phenomenon related to rheological properties of DRPs and not related to their specific chemistry. The domain of drag reducing polymers includes many organic and water-soluble, synthetic and natural long-chain molecules. The study presented here employed chemical and rheological methods, as well as macro and microfluidic tests, to characterize the DRP that we discovered in the Aloe vera plant, which was found to be a more powerful drag reducer and less fragile than many synthetic DRPs. The drag-reducing component of aloe gel was purified and chemically identified, which helped to standardize preparation and made this polymer a strong candidate for clinical use. Examples of successful testing of the aloe-derived DRP in animal models are described. View Full-Text
Keywords: drag reducing polymers; Aloe vera; polysaccharide; rheology; in vitro; in vivo drag reducing polymers; Aloe vera; polysaccharide; rheology; in vitro; in vivo

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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. (CC BY 4.0).

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Marhefka, J.N.; Kameneva, M.V. Natural Drag-Reducing Polymers: Discovery, Characterization and Potential Clinical Applications. Fluids 2016, 1, 6.

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