Fish skin graft is a novel treatment on burn victims, hard to heal wounds and more.
The healing properties of fish skin has been confirmed by different researches all around the world, and now it is being tested as a type of wound dressing in some clinical trials.
In a study conducted in Germany, 5 patients with diabetes mellitus and complicated wounds in the lower limb with exposed bony segments, were treated with fish skin graft for up to 41 weeks. It was found that fish matrix is a viable treatment option in complicated wounds in the lower limb of diabetic patients to circumvent an otherwise necessary proximalization of amputation level.
The participants in this study received fish skin grafts on their hard to heal wounds between November 2014 and November 2015.Following initial debridement in the operating room, the fish skin graft was applied and covered with a silicone mesh. In total, 7 wounds were treated with 2 localised at the thigh level and five at the forefoot. For the wounds at the thigh, it took 26 weeks to achieve wound closure, whereas the wounds at the level of the forefoot showed healing times between 13 and 41 weeks.
Another research on the potential for such type of technology to be utilized in the clinical setting was assessed. 18 patients with hard to heal wounds, had 5 weekly skin graft, for five weeks, applied to the wound. They found that there was a 40% decrease in wound surface area and a 48% decrease in wound depth, which was seen with 5 weekly applications of the fish-skin graft and secondary dressing. Complete closure was seen in 3 of 18 patients by the end of the study phase.
What is in fish skin graft that helps to heal damaged skin and is it safe?
A laboratory analysis revealed that fish skin graft is SAFE because it is biocompatible with human skin. Therefore there are no risks involved with the graft transmitting diseases to the patient or risks of inflammatory reactions.
The healing effect on human damaged skin, is because fish skin contains two very important elements involved in the process of healing damaged skin. They are: Collagen I and Omega 3
collagen is the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues, which is known to promotes angiogenesis and supports cellular ingrowth.
Some of the fish skin graft products available promise results in a varied number of conditions such as: reconstructing the skin in burn, chronic wounds and oral wound; hernia repair, breast reconstruction and dura mater reconstruction. These applications are said to be efficient due to the fact that fish skin contains natural skin elements and bioactive lipids, which not only acts as a scaffold for revascularization and repopulation of the patients’ cells, but provides anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties as well.
Recently, a group of researchers from the Federal University of Ceará in Brazil have started to test clinically, the application of Tilapia fish skin grafts on burn victims. The scientific community is very hopeful that such technology will be more widely used in the future. Not only because fish skin graft reduces the need for analgesic medication but also because there are no known religious and cultural barriers to use fish skin grafts which can help underserved communities, improve patients’ lives overall, and reduce costs.