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A Fish that will heal your wounds

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Scientists have well known about the healing properties of collagen, which
is the main structural protein found in the connective tissues of
animals, for many years. Mammal collagen, especially from pigs and cows,
has been extensively used for skin wound healing in hospitals all over
the world. 

But the problem with mammal collagen is that it carries the
risk of disease transmission, such as foot-and-mouth disease and bovine
spongiform encephalopathy, plus many people can’t receive it due to
their religious beliefs. But fish collagen? It’s cheaper, safer, and there’s a whole lot of it to go around. 
Back in 2008, research showed that nanofibres made from
collagen-rich, discarded fish scales had enough tensile strength to be
used as a wound-dressing material, and when applied topically,
encouraged the growth of skin cells. Containing around 70 percent
collagen, fish skin is even better than fish scales, and is closer in
form and structure to human skin, so a team of scientists from the
Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine in the US decided to
test out its healing powers.
Using a series of processing and
purification technologies, the team managed to extract pieces of
high-quality collagen sponge from discarded tilapia skin. They first
tested to see if it would provoke an immune response, which would be
bad, because it means the body is rejecting it. 
To find out, they mixed mouse spleen lymphocytes – a type of white blood cell
– and mixed them with the tilapia collagen sponge. The contact did not
cause the lymphocytes to proliferate, which means there was no immune
response. “Furthermore, tilapia collagen encouraged the growth of
fibroblasts and increased the expression of genes involved in wound
healing,” Alex B. Berezow reports at Real Clear Science. “Thus, these experiments indicated that tilapia collagen is well-suited for regenerative medicine.”
Next,
the researchers tested the strength of a wound dressing made from
tilapia collagen and found that it was tough, and stable at temperatures
up to around 300 degrees Celsius.
The final test was its actual
wound-healing ability. Rats with 1.8-centimetre long wounds on their
backs were treated with either the new fish collagen wound dressings, an
algae-based wound dressing called Kaltostat, or nothing at all. You can
see the results below:

“Compared to the control groups, the wound-healing rate was
significantly improved, crust started to disappear at day seven, and
most of the wound area was covered with a continuous epidermis at day 14
in the collagen nanofibres group, while the skin wounds in the other
two groups were not fully healed,” the team reports in Applied Materials & Interfaces.
“The histopathological results confirmed that the collagen nanofibres
caused the lowest degree of inflammatory response and induced the best
growth status of new epidermis throughout the process of wound healing.”
The
next step will be human trials, and turning it into a commercially
viable product. But it won’t be easy. “They will face a tough
marketplace,” says Berezow at Real Clear Science.
“For instance, the company Eqalix, which uses a soybean protein to
promote wound healing, has a head start of a few years. Currently,
Eqalix is seeking FDA clearance for its product.”

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I hope they get
there. What they’re using is an abundant and cheap waste product, which
is just sitting there waiting to be recycled. It’s not clear if Eqalix
is using discarded soybean parts, but if they’re not, well, we really
don’t need another excuse to grow more of them

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