When it comes to options for healing wounds, there may be plenty of fish in the sea. But bandages derived from tilapia skin could surface as a prize catch, according to a preliminary study that finds collagen from the skin of that popular food fish led to speedier wound healing in rats.
Collagen is the main component of connective tissue, and the protein has the ability to support and protect the skin, according to researchers Jiao Sun and Xiumei Mo of the Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine. Their team developed “nanofiber dressings” from tilapia collagen and used them as bandages to cover wounds on rats.
The rats with the dressings healed faster than those without. More significantly, the fishy bandages did not cause an immune reaction, meaning they weren't rejected by the rats' tissue. Findings were published this month in the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Still, it's way too early to toss the traditional gauze and saline solution, researchers say. The findings are preliminary. So although the production of tilapia has increased 163% over the past decade, that abundance is still more likely to show up as a meal option rather than as a medical supply. But those angling for immediate tilapia benefits can still find them. The fish is said to be low in saturated fat and a good source of omega-3, niacin, potassium and protein.