Tilapia is a favourite dinnertime fish in the United States and several parts of Asia. Its mild flavour and affordability makes it one of the most commercially important aquaculture species. Scientists, however, have found a new use for this fish
Researchers Jiao Sun, Xiumei Mo, and their colleagues have found out that a protein found in the skin of tilapia can promote skin repair in rats without negative immune reaction. This finding suggests a possible future use for wound healing in and improving wound dressing for human patients.
Accordingly, collagen, a major structural protein found in animals, has been used to formulate protein-based wound dressing. Applying this protein to wounds helps in encouraging the skin to heal faster. However, most commercially available collagens are sourced from mammals such as cows and pigs. Thus, using these proteins runs the risk of transmitting livestock-borne diseases.
The team of Sun and Mo looked for an alternative source of collagen. To be specific, they turned to water bodies. The researchers wanted to know whether collagen sourced from fish is a better alternative.
They subsequently developed nanofibres from tilapia collagen. They use these fibres to cover skin wounds on rats. In an experiment that involved two test groups of rats, the study revealed that the group with the nanofibre wound dressing healed faster than the other group.
Furthermore, the team conducted a lab test to scrutinise the biological effects of the newly developed wound dressing made from tilapia collagen. Lab tests on cells subsequently revealed that the collagen was not likely to cause an immune reaction.
A key takeaway from the study is the possible use of a nanofibre wound dressing made from tilapia collagen for human patients. The researchers concluded that tilapia collagen is a good candidate to develop for clinical use.
Further details of the study are found in the article “Development of biomimetic tilapia collagen nanofibers for skin regeneration through inducing keratinocytes differentiation and collagen synthesis of dermal fibroblasts” published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. The researchers have acknowledged funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.