The future of care may swim in the ocean

It may sound fishy, but a popular dinner in many homes — tilapia — could also help wounds heal faster, according to a study out of Shanghai Jiatong University School of Medicine. Researchers Jiao Sun and Xiumei Mo and their team developed nanofiber dressings made from tilapia collagen and used them as bandages to cover skin wounds on rats. 

They found that the rats with the nanofiber dressings healed faster than a control group treated with standard alginate dressings. In addition, lab tests showed that the bandages didn't cause an immune reaction among the rats, indicating they weren't rejected by the rats' tissue.

While the results are preliminary, the researchers say dressings derived from tilapia skin may be a prize catch for future use in humans. Most of the collagen used in medical technology now comes from mammals such as pigs and cows, but impurities in these proteins can transmit disease between these species and humans. Not so with fish, as there's virtually no pathogenic overlap with humans. In addition, fish collagen could be much less expensive than many of the other collagen products currently on the market, the researchers say.

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