Tokyo Institute of Technology researchers, Toshiyuki Ikoma and Junzo Tanaka have produced artificial bones from the fish scales, in a period of about three months.
Other features of artificial bones fabricated by fish collagen and apatite include the finding that (1) the bones have a much higher density and are thereby very strong; (2) the bones implanted into bone defects transform into bone tissue much faster than those using porcine dermis collagen.
“One of our major aims is to use fish collagen for the treatment of bone tumors in older people whose bones take longer to regenerate,” explains Ikoma. “Fish collagen is a material that has the potential of becoming the key material for the development of artificial bones and bone therapy.
In addition to the regeneration of bones from fish collagen, the Tanaka and Ikoma Research group is pursuing projects on nanomedicine and diagnostics. Notably, the Tokyo Institute of Technology group conducts research on tissue engineering and implantable biomaterials in collaboration with medical doctors and biologists. “An interdisciplinary approach with researchers from the medical and engineering fields is very crucial for success” says Ikoma.
In the fish collagen experiments, the researchers have focused on type I collagen extracted from tilapia scales because the scale has little fat and is mainly composed of pure collagen. Intriguingly, Tilapia lives in warm fresh water and the scale collagen shows the highest denaturation (the change of collagen to gelatin) temperature at 36oC, and has no fishy odor.