Fish collagen is the next big thing in wound healing

Collagen wound dressings have been a staple in modern medicine for decades, but traditional mammalian-based products may soon be replaced with those from tilapia fish–and…

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Collagen wound dressings help speed up the healing process. (Shutterstock)

Collagen wound dressings have been a staple in modern medicine for decades, but traditional mammalian-based products may soon be replaced with those from tilapia fish–and patients will be the better for it.

Collagen wound dressings are designed to offer a hypoallergenic, pain-free way to promote tissue healing as they keep out bacteria and provide a flexible platform for the growth of new tissue.

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Modern products. however, are made from cows and pigs, and though it is rare, these wound dressings can sometimes transfer zoonotic conditions like foot and mouth disease.

Collagen is too valuable to toss aside because of this risk; research published in the journal Wounds explains collagen is one of the major protein building blocks of tissue and as such, is invaluable to the wound healing process.

Tilapia fish is one of the most common fishes sold

Tilapia fish may not be good for your diet, but it could mean the world for wound healing. (Shutterstock)

Not only does collagen wound dressing offer a foundation for cells to start regenerating, it also promotes certain cellular functions and helps manage inflammation during the healing process.

“Previously, collagens were thought to function only as structural support; however, collagen and collagen-derived fragments control many cellular functions, including cell shape and differentiation, migration, and synthesis of a number of proteins,” wrote researchers. “Collagen also plays a critical role in all phases of wound healing (hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and remodelling).”

Because of all the benefits, collagen dressings have been used despite the risk of transferable diseases. Now, even that risk may be eradicated, all thanks to new collagen developed from the tilapia fish.

Tian Zhou, from the Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine in China, and a team of experts evaluated the efficacy of tilapia collagen as a wound dressing.

In the laboratory research on rats, the collagen was found to promote healing and proper cellular function just as does cow and pig collagen. Most importantly, the collagen did not cause any immune response from the test patient, an important requirement for a wound dressing.

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Tilapia is one of the most commonly consumed fish in the United States, but despite being  in a category with many healthy diet options, the fish is actually worse for a person than eating bacon, according to research.

Tilapia is heavily farmed, however, making it widely available. The new collagen need may offer tilapia farmers a new market should consumer’s cut the fish out of their regular meal plans.