Collagen from Fish-Scales Can Aid Faster Healing of Wounds
Let’s talk about Fish and Fish scales today.
When we consume the highly nutritious and proteinous aquatic animals called fish, we don’t eat them with their scales. We enjoy the fleshy, succulent part of the aquatic fauna and discard the scales.
The odds of anyone preparing a fish dish, stew or meal, with the fish scales are close to zilch; and that is just common sense. I can’t possibly think of many uses for fish scales, or can you?
Well, every year large quantities of fish scales are disposed of and neither the fish industry or fish consumers can lay a finger on any particular use or importance to which they can attach to the scales of fishes; hence the essence of discarding them as waste products.
Science and Tech may now have a huge say on what happens to fish scales
First of all, the scales are always gotten rid of, before preparing the fish for consumption. So, wet fish scales or dry fish scales are there any useful ways they can be applied?
Well, the above question and so many others may have been the factor that prompted researchers into studying the scales to find a very useful application of the ‘normally-considered’ waste and worthless by-product and whatever it can be useful for. And as long as science exists, you can trust that scientists would always find a way. (Science rocks).
What have scientists discovered about fish scales?
Well, scientists at NTU which is Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and the National University of Singapore (NUS) now say fish-scales may aid wound healing in humans.
How did they go about making the discovery?
The study about the possibility of fish scales being “healers”, kicked-off with the researchers collecting tilapia scales, snakehead and sea bass from a fish farm in Singapore. Next, they extracted collagen from the collection of scales and skin. The collagen extracted was then modified and applied to the skin of mice.
But what is a collagen? And how important is it in human and animal biology?
In simple terms, collagen is the major type of protein present in the skin and other tissues connected in mammalian species, and are mainly used in its purified form to perform surgical treatments of cosmetic nature.
Collagen in human skin is multifunctional and dynamic. It is possesses tensile firmness and is a major component of the skin, bone, cartilage, fascia, ligaments and tendons. The collagen in collaboration with soft keratin and elastin in the skin is responsible for skin elasticity and strength and its subsequent degradation results in wrinkles with is often a factor of aging.
What did they observe from the application of the modified collagen?
After applying the modified collagen on the skin of mice, the researchers observed that it promoted the formation of both the blood and lymphatic vessels. Its action on blood vessels suggested that it would be very useful in dressing of wounds to aid repair and regeneration of damaged tissue.
Now even though the collagen compound is currently being used in medicine for dressing and healing wounds, the particular variant being used is obtained from the skins and hides of sheep, cows and pigs.
The challenge with using collagen obtained from cow, sheep and pig
There are some key challenges involved in the use of collagen from animals such as cow, sheep and pigs. The scientists stated that such sources of collagen and their application towards clinical use are often inhibited as a result of some people’s cultural and religious beliefs and restrictions. Hence associating with such mammalian tissue-derived materials is often seen as a drawback.
Also, there is the matter of the need for advanced and optimum qualitative analysis and processing for such product and their sources due to the risk of contracting and transmitting diseases which can easily or seamlessly be transmitted from the mammalian species to humans.
The latest study into fish scales suggests that asides the fact that they can be highly useful in wound-treating and healing due to a preferred choice of their collagen properties, fish scales would also be a much cheaper source of collagen. This is a plus because the scales itself is a waste product, which devoid of any other use would otherwise be thrown away.
Another factor to consider is that the fish scales and their collagen variant may simply work much better that the present collagen variant currently being used for treatment.
Further application of the fish scales emanates from an earlier study by the same scientists from the Nanyang Technological University. In the study the scientists were able to discover that the collagen derived from the fish scales encouraged human umbilical vein endothelial cells at over two times more (almost three times) of the type of collagen responsible for the formation of blood vessels, compared to the endothelial cells derived from collagen sourced from cows.
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