What are Chitin and Chitosan?


came into being In 1823 when Frenchman Oldier boiled the wing of insects with potassium hydroxide only to obtain a non-soluble substance which subsequently was named Chitin.

Chitin is naturally formed in the invertebrates and lower plants. It is the second most abundant material on earth after cellulose. Crustaceans and molluses are the attractive sources of Chitin since worldwide catches of prawns, crabs and squids amount to millions of tons annually. The wastes of marine food processing plants are an alternative source of industrial Chitin.


Only with the advent of bio-technology in 1859 was the process of deriving Chitosan from Chitin made possible. It is the main and most important derivative of Chitin for industrial consumption, since it is soluble in acidic aqueous systems and, by extension, in human body.

From Chitosan, many more derivatives are obtained, each with its own unique characteristics.


Both being natural polymers, are environmental friendly. It is biodegradable and bio-compatible, even digestible in both plant and animal tissues. Their structures have many similarities with those of cellulose and starch (which are also natural polymers).

Chitin, Chitosan, Cellulose and starch with their most important main characteristics of bio-compatibility, bio-degradability, and bio-renewability are all environment friendly.

Such uniqueness are therefore ideal for assimilation with Chito-industries, especially in the production of cosmetics, agricultural items, nutriceuticals and affluent treatment of various industries, including clarification of domestic water. Based on the crustacean and molluscan landing and the aquaculture data available, sources of Chitin-Chitosan in Malaysia alone are sufficient to support Chito-industries for this region.

Source: Advance in Chitin Science Chitin Vol II 7th International Conference on Chitin-Chitosan and Euchis ‘97


In Malaysia, formal research into Chitin & Chitosan has been on-going for no less than 20 years under the aegis of the Chitin-Chitosan Research Centre (CCRC) of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) where R & D facilities available are recognized as being among the best in the world.

Chito-Chem Sdn Bhd which produce various grades of Chitosan as raw material is a joint venture company between UKM, MTDC, Eastern Global and Perfect Pursuit (an Ample Effect Sdn Bhd affiliated company).



Chitosan is remarkably effective in the healing processes of the body and also in the prevention of many torturing modern ailments. It is credited as being the “saviour of the modern polluted world”.

By its unique characteristics, Chitosan is so prolific as to be capable of being applied in the production of products for a variety of uses, viz.:-

For Therapeutic Uses:

Anti-Cancer, liver problems, excessive cholesterol, obesity, hypertension, diabetes.
Contact lens, artificial skin, surgical sutures, artificial dialyzer, artificial blood vessels.
Photographic film.
Scar Healing – see full details under Products – Beauty & Skin Care.
Wound healing dressing – see full details under Products – Beauty & Skin Care.
Cosmetic - Moisturizer (NMF), hair styling lotion, hair dye, grooming Cleanser.

For Functional Food uses:

Prevention of ageing.
Enhancement of resistance.
Balancing of automatic and synthetic nerves.
Regulating of hormone levels of men and women.

For Agricultural Uses:

Chemical - Insecticide
Feeds to promote growth of livestock  
Fishery - Fish feeds
Manufacturing - Improves colour of sauces and sediments of vinegar
Plants - Resistance to plant disease and fungi
Waste Treatment - Waste water treatment, elimination of heavy metals

For Industrial Uses:

Garments, dye, paper
Waste water treatment for pulp and paper plants etc.

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not presented with the intention of diagnosing any disease or condition or prescribing any treatment. It is offered as information and educational purpose only, for use in the maintenance and promotion of good health in conjunction with qualified and registered medical practitioner. No responsibility is assumed by the author,publisher or distributor of this information. No guarantees of any kind are made for the performance or effectiveness of the preparations mentioned on this website. The information has not been evaluated by the Health Ministry.
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