Desperate doctors in Brazil have resorted to using fish skin to treat severe burns victims. The unusual method came about amid a shortage of frozen pig skin and human tissue in public hospitals in the south American country.
Both are normally placed on burns to keep them moist and allow the transfer of collagen, a protein that promotes healing.
Scientists found tilapia fish – commonly found in Brazil’s rivers and fish farms – have the moisture, collagen and disease resistance at levels comparable to human skin and can aid healing.
Before the breakthrough Brazilian hospitals were using gauze bandage which needs regular changing – often painfully.
The tilapia treatment can speed up healing by several days and reduces the need for pain medication, the Brazilian researchers said.