Common problems surrounding the lack of medical resources lead to a startling discovery in Brazil. Currently Brazil can only meet 1% of their national demand for skin grafts, as they only have 3 skin graft banks and lack many human, pig, and artificial grafts that are more widely available in the United States market. Critically in need of a viable solution, the Brazilians turned to something that was readily available to them; Tilapia. The tilapia skins are initially sterilized by radiation and then packaged and stored in a refrigerated environment.
Sterilized Tilapia skins has been shown to have great benefits in facilitating skin healing and even speed up the process. The tilapia treatment also reduces the need for pain medication and need for bandages to be changed, offering more comfort to patients. Studies have shown that tilapia actually contains more collagen 1 and collagen 3 proteins than human and pig skin. Tilapia was also found to contain more moisture and tension than human skin, which contributes to its superior healing processes.
So why aren’t we seeing more fish-men here in the United States? Well one problem is cost. The FDA has heavy regulations on animal products so it is very expensive to do tilapia graft studies here in the United States. We also have many more options available to us, so we don’t have as big of a need to find new grafting processes. However, tilapia seems like a very interesting prospect for developing countries.