Mussels have been a part of different delicious delicacies, no doubt. But who would've thought that it could also help heal scars?
Scars form when you're cut, or when the collagen scaffolding in your skin is torn apart. The collagen fibers then grow back in parallel groups that makes scars lumpy, as opposed to the original basket-weave arrangement.
Decorin is a skin protein that helps in collagen arrangement, and helps reduce scarring in the skin. But since this compound is hard to synthesise, it's not used often in clinics. So Hyung Joon Cha and his colleagues have made a simple version of decotin using a small section of the protein with the sticky substance secreted from the mussels.
The researchers applied this "glue" on rats with 8-millimetre-wide wounds and covered them in a clear plastic film. Another rat group had their wounds just covered in the plastic film. After 11 days, 99 percent of the wound of the first rat group were treated compared to the 78 percent of the group with just the film. By 28 days, the wound of the rats with glue were fully healed while the control group had purple scars.
Looking closely, the researchers saw that the collagen fibers in the treated rats had developed blood vessels, oil glands, started growing hair, and returned to the basket-weave arrangement that are not found in scars. The glue made it possible as it holds the fibres apart, and weave it in and out seamlessly instead of just sticking it together randomly.
Rats, however, have different skins than us. “Rats have loose skin, whereas we have tight skin, and they tend to heal better and have less scarring than we do,” says University of South Australia research professor Allison Cowin, who wasn’t involved in the study. However, Cha says that they are now testing the glue on pigs, with skin similar to our own.
“If this can be replicated in humans, it might be the next big thing for scar therapy,” Cowin says.
Accidents or surgical operations? Nasty marks from these won't be a problem soon with this new study! Science just keeps on getting better and better, don't you think?