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Best from the waste!

What time is it? The reason for asking the question is not to know the time, but to divert your attention towards the skin of your hand. Fact, the layer of skin you just saw is made up of cells. It is made up of pretty rugged cells. Fun fact, though the cells are rough, they are continually being shredded. They fall off during everyday activities. You lose 40,000 of them per hour. So why is my skin still intact? Well, it is a stem cell which is helping you out. Stem cell regenerates the cells and repairs the damaged tissues. That is how you grew up from just an embryo!

Stem cell research has been carried on for a long time because of the functional benefits discussed above. To keep the stem cells in place, collagen in must. It tells the importance of collagen. No wonder we will need it as much as we can. To our surprise, researchers from IIT Hyderabad have derived collagen from waste eel skin.

Image Courtesy: BWEducation

What makes eel a good source of collagen?

Before eel, cow skin was used as a source of collagen. But this caused pathological illness. Because of it, the mad-cow disease started to spread. Eel being a non-mammal, such illness can be prevented. This made eel the right choice for the source of collagen.

The story doesn’t end here. India has a great marine life. Majority of people eat eels on a regular basis. The skin of the eel is quite thick, so it has to be removed before cooking. The skin is thrown out and contributes to the grave problem of environmental pollution. It turns out; the skin is the blessing in disguise. It is a great source of collagen. These reasons make eel top the chart of the sources of collagen.

How was collagen derived from eel?

Chemicals like acetic acid, common salt and pepsin were treated with the skin of eel to break down the proteins in it. The collagen thus obtained was then combined with algae-based get. Now they used 3D printing methods to study the structure of collagen. The study was done to find out whether the combination of collagen and algae-based gel will be a good platform for the generation of cells. The results were positive. The platform was suitable for growth. Collagen was derived in this way, and a green signal was shown. 

The Department of Science and Technology-Science and Engineering Research Board (DST-SERB), Government of India through the National Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme (N-PDF) funded the research. Journal Cleaner Production published the paper.

Studies have been going on to find out how stem cells can be used to develop and repair other vital organs like kidneys, liver, and heart. If things go as per plan, more relaxed and cheaper means to develop stem cells will be available.

Also, Read – Personalized human organs on demand by Pandorum Technologies!

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