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December 2017, Volume 67, Issue 12

Letter to the Editor

Use of Nile Tilapia (Oreochromisniloticus) skin in the management of skin burns

Muhammad Osama  ( Foundation University Institute of Rehabilitation Sciences (FUIRS), Foundation University, Islamabad. )


An increase in burn cases has been reported with an ever increasing pace of life, leading to a negative socio-economic impact. 1Literature shows that 0.5 million people with acute burn injuries are managed in the emergency department and 0.08 million patients are hospitalized every year in the United States.2 In the management of burn patients numerous topical drugs including \\\'Mafenide acetate Sol.\\\' and \\\'Silver Sulfadiazine\\\' are used but are expensive and are associated with numerous drawbacks including severe side effects, poor results in deep burn wounds and formation of prominent scars.3On the other hand collagen which comes from sources such as cattle and pig skin or chicken waste is also used for medicinal and pharmaceutical purposes.3,4 However these sources of collagen are inappropriate for use by some cultural and religious groups, and may be contaminated leading to diseases such as mad cow disease, foot and mouth disease and transmissible spongiform encephalopathy.3Nile Tilapia (scientific name Oreochromisniloticus) is a fresh water fish and is commonly found and cultivated in Thailand and Brazil.3,4 The skin of this fish is not consumed and is discarded. Talipia skin is rich in type I and III collagen fibers and has moisture and disease resistance similar to human skin. Researchers in Brazil  have developed a sterilized tilapia skin wound dressing for second and third degree burns, on which clinical trials are being carried out and at least 56 patients have received this treatment up till now.5 In addition to being 75% cheaper than its alternative, Talipia skin wound dressing can stay as long as 10 days and peeled off easily afterwards, as compared to gauze and silver sulfadiazine dressing which has to be changed every day.5Recently, tilapia collagen nano-fibers are found to result in skin wound healing speedily and successfully in rats by promoting cell adhesion, proliferation and differentiation. 6 Yet another study published in 2017 carried out in vitro and in vivo experiments for wound healing evaluation, found promising application of marine collagen peptides from talipia skin.4According to the Brazilian researchers the treatment is cheap, speeds up healing and decreases the need for pain medication,5 and perhaps this cheap yet effective alternate treatment can also be employed in Pakistan.

Conflict of Interest: None.
Ethical Approval: As this is a "Letter to the Editor" this manuscript does not require an Ethical Approval.
Funding Sources:  None.


1. Edelman LS. Social and economic factors associated with the risk of burn injury. Burns 2007; 33: 958-65.
2. Wasiak J, Spinks A, Ashby K, Clapperton A, Cleland H, Gabbe B. The epidemiology of burn injuries in an Australian setting, 2000-2006. Burns 2009; 35: 1124-32.
3. Potaros T, Raksakulthai N, Runglerdkreangkrai J, Worawattanamateekul W. Characteristics of collagen from nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) skin isolated by two different methods. Nat Sci 2009; 43: 584-93.
4. Hu Z, Yang P, Zhou C, Li S, Hong P. Marine Collagen Peptides from the Skin of Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus): Characterization and Wound Healing Evaluation. Mar Drugs 2017; 15: 102.
5. Whitaker P, Garcia P. Brazilian doctors use fish skin to treat burn victims. [online] 2017 [Cited 2017 May 28]. Available from: URL:
6. Zhou T, Wang N, Xue Y, Ding T, Liu X, Mo X, et al. Electrospun tilapia collagen nanofibers accelerating wound healing via inducing keratinocytes proliferation and differentiation. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces 2016; 143: 415-22.

Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association has agreed to receive and publish manuscripts in accordance with the principles of the following committees: