The following article, Sharkskin Could Be Used To Help Humans Heal Wounds, was first published on Flag And Cross.
Sharkskin could help heal injuries, according to a new study.
The beasts have a “remarkable” ability to heal from wounds, and experts believe the chemical compounds in their skin could be used in medicine.
Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, discovered sharks have a very thin layer of mucus on their skin that is chemically different from other fish.
It could help protect against pathogens, they said, by sticking to bacteria and carrying it away.
Other particles in the mucus bind water and salts together, making it thicker, more adhesive, and forming a physical barrier between water and skin.
Most fish have smooth skin protected by a thick, slimy layer of mucus, while sharks have a rough exterior that feels like sandpaper.
Compared to other fish, shark mucus is less acidic, nearly neutral, and closer to mammal or even human mucus than it is to other fish.
Experts studied the skin mucus of spiny dogfish, a small shark species, and were surprised to discover it has an “outstanding resemblance” to the mucus in our gut.
Jakob Wikström, associate professor of dermatology at Karolinska, said: “Much more is known about fish biology than shark biology, for obvious reasons.
“Fish are easier to handle, and there’s a bigger commercial interest in them. Sharks are also fish, of course, but 99 percent of fish are bony species (Osteichthyes), unlike the cartilaginous sharks and skates (Chondrichthyes),
“The molecular biology of sharks is unique, they’re not just another fish swimming around.
“They have a unique biology, and there are probably lots of human biomedical applications that one could derive from that.
“For example, when it comes to mucin, a primary component of the mucus, one can imagine different wound care topical treatments that could be developed from that.
“Wound-treatment products have already been derived from codfish. I think it’s possible that one could make something similar from sharks.”
“Animals that are far away from us evolutionarily can still give us very important information that is relevant for humans.”
He said extensive research has gone into the wound healing of zebrafish, but added: “No one has really done it on sharks to the same extent, so it’s exciting because we really don’t know what we’re going to find. It’s explorative research.”
The team also looked at other cartilaginous fish species – defined as a jawed fish with a skeleton made up primarily of cartilage and includes skates and rays.
Previous tests on sharks have helped develop a new antibiotic and aided cystic fibrosis research.
Writing in the journal Marine Biological Laboratory, co-author Professor Etty Bachar-Wikström, senior researcher at Karolinska Institutet, said the team hoped to understand shark skin more thoroughly during their investigations at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
She and Professor Wikström will release a series of papers on the unique biochemical properties of shark skin on a cellular level, and how this might translate to medicine.
She said: “Our aim in this paper was to characterize shark skin at the molecular level, which hasn’t been done in depth.
“Besides the human relevance, it’s also important to characterize these amazing animals and to know more about them and how they survive in their environments.
“I think that this is just the first step to even deeper molecular understanding.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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