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Does shark skin hold the key to a new generation of medical breakthroughs?

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Does shark skin hold the key to a new generation of medical breakthroughs?

WOODS HOLE, Mass. — Perhaps don’t blow up Jaws subsequent time. Swedish researchers say that shark pores and skin might maintain clues for the development of human medication. Scientists from the Karolinska Institute have been investigating the potential biomedical properties of shark pores and skin and mucus, shedding mild on the exceptional therapeutic talents of those oceanic predators.

Whereas sharks have lengthy been identified for his or her capability to heal from wounds sustained within the wild, the scientific group is now exploring the chemical compounds current in shark pores and skin as a supply of potential medical breakthroughs.

Researchers carried out a deep dive to know the distinctive biochemistry of shark pores and skin. Their analysis targeted on the pores and skin mucus of sharks, together with the spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) and associated species like little skates, carried out on the Marine Organic Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Gap, Massachusetts.

In contrast to most fish species, which possess comparatively clean pores and skin protected by a thick layer of slimy mucus, sharks have rough skin that appears like sandpaper. Initially, it wasn’t clear whether or not this tough pores and skin had any protecting mucus layer in any respect.

“Our purpose on this paper was to characterize shark pores and skin on the molecular stage, which hasn’t been accomplished in depth,” says Etty Bachar-Wikström, senior researcher on the Karolinska Institute, in a media release.

The chain catshark (Scyliorhinus retifer) is one of four elasmobranch species (sharks, skates, rays and sawfish) known to be biofluorescent
The chain catshark (Scyliorhinus retifer) is considered one of 4 elasmobranch species (sharks, skates, rays and sawfish) identified to be biofluorescent. (CREDIT: Jakob Wikström and Etty Bachar-Wikström)

The research’s findings revealed that shark pores and skin certainly has a really skinny mucus layer, but it surely differs chemically from that present in bony fish. Shark mucus is much less acidic and almost impartial, bearing a more in-depth chemical resemblance to some mammalian and even human mucus than to the mucus of bony fish.

“They’re not simply one other fish swimming round. They’ve a singular biology, and there are in all probability plenty of human biomedical functions that one might derive from that,” explains Jakob Wikström, affiliate professor of dermatology and principal investigator at Karolinska. “For instance, relating to mucin [a primary component of the mucus], one can think about completely different wound care topical treatments that could possibly be developed from that.”

Wound-treatment merchandise have already been derived from codfish, Wikström notes, including, “I feel it’s attainable that one might make one thing comparable from sharks.”

“In addition to the human relevance, it’s additionally necessary to characterize these wonderful animals, and to know extra about them and the way they survive of their surroundings… I feel that that is simply step one to even deeper molecular understanding,” Bachar-Wikström continues.

Researchers have extra research in progress to additional characterize the distinct biochemical properties of those species, together with chain catsharks (Scyliorhinus retifer), little skates (Leucoraja erinacea), and spiny dogfish.

Little skate (Leucoraja erinacea) hatchling, another species studied by the team
Little skate (Leucoraja erinacea) hatchling, one other species studied by the staff. (Credit score: Tetsuya Nakamura)

“Animals which can be far-off [from us] evolutionarily can nonetheless give us essential info that’s related for people,” says Wikström.

Whereas analysis has extensively examined the wound-healing talents of zebrafish, sharks stay comparatively unexplored on this regard.

“Nobody has actually accomplished it on sharks to the identical extent, so it’s thrilling as a result of we actually don’t know what we’re going to search out,” notes Wikström. “It’s explorative analysis.”

The research is revealed within the Worldwide Journal of Molecular Sciences.

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