Waste frog skin could be used to help heal chronic wounds
Chronic diabetic skin ulcers are notoriously slow to heal, but an otherwise-wasted material may soon help change that. Scientists at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a new regenerative wound dressing, and it's made from frog skin.
Although frog meat is considered a delicacy, oddity or both in many parts of the world, it's widely consumed in Singapore. It mainly comes from bullfrogs raised on farms, and the skins of those frogs are typically discarded during processing.
Led by Assoc. Prof. Dalton Tay, an NTU team developed a process in which impurities are removed from frog skin, that skin is blended into a paste, then pure collagen is extracted from the paste. That collagen is subsequently incorporated into a biodegradable, biocompatible patch.
The hope is that when applied to a chronic wound, the patch will speed healing by providing a porous layer for white blood cells and healing agents to coagulate within. It will then also serve as a protective barrier, which will further enhance healing by keeping the wound moist.
Additionally, in the later stages of healing, the collagen should function as a scaffolding-like structure for adjacent skins cells to migrate into. Over time, as the skin cells reproduce and the patch degrades, it should be completely replaced by new skin.
Although the use of bovine-sourced collagen has previously been explored for the same purpose, Tay believes that amphibian-derived collagen will offer better biocompatibility with humans. In fact, last year he announced an experimental bone-repair material that was also made from frog skin (and fish scales).
The wound dressing is being developed in partnership with Singaporean medical technology firm Cuprina Wound Care Solutions, which makes a product that utilizes live maggots to remove dead tissue from wound sites. Plans call for both technologies – used together – to be the subject of human clinical trials within the next two years.
Source: Nanyang Technological University