Featured Image Credit: STAT via Youtube
By Kira Krall
Brazilian medical scientists have developed a burn treatment straight out of a comic book: sanitized tilapia skin.
Hospitalized burn victims suffer serious damage to their tissues and can even become paralyzed as a result of their injury. In the United States and other countries, skin grafts assist the body in healing these burn wounds. Because of a lack of supply, Burn victims in Brazil are treated with standard bandages and silver sulfadiazine cream. The cream and bandages help prevent infection but do nothing to get rid of dead tissue that can stop healing in its tracks. Bandages also have to be changed every day, a painful process for healing skin.
So, one team of doctors looked to the water to end their patient’s suffering. The answer came in the form of something that millions of people eat every day: Tilapia.
Through extensive research, scientists in the burn unit of Fortaleza’s José Frota Institute discovered how the properties of Tilapia skin can heal burn wounds even faster than traditional human skin grafts. Tilapia skin has naturally occurring collagen in it, can retain moisture, and has enough tension to flex with the body without tearing, all properties that make it an excellent (and au naturel) aid in healing.
A male Nile Tilapia, pictured above, is an example of a skin donor used in this study. A thorough and multi-faceted sanitizing process ensures the skin is safe to use on humans. Once it’s prepared and frozen, this new medical technology can stay viable for up to two years. The Tilapia skin is still in clinical trials and the comparative cost is also being studied. If it continues to dominate the clinical trials, the Fortalez Jose Frota team hopes a company will buy their product to distribute to hospitals and treatment centers.
Watch the video below to see the tilapia bandage in action:
While it’s a genius use of animal tissue that would otherwise be thrown away, tilapia skin won’t be showing up in United States hospitals any time soon. Our demand is already more than met by human, pig, and artificial skin. Although, we’re sure there are plenty of people out there that wouldn’t mind trading their less-than-pleasant artificial skin for the REALLY cool-looking and beneficial tilapia skin. Plus we know we wouldn’t mind feeling like a superhero (or villain) for a few weeks.