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Researchers in Brazil have come up with a new way to treat burns: applying fish skin to the wounds.

The skin of tilapia fish, abundant in Brazil, turns out to have both healing properties and can act as a pain-killer.

In other countries, burns are often covered with pig skin, or human tissue, which speeds up the body’s own healing process. But both of those routes are expensive and Brazilian hospitals often don’t have access to the treatments – opting instead for covering burns in sulfadiazine cream and gauze. Covering a burn in fish skin is an inexpensive and effective way of treating serious wounds; it costs 75% less than the sulfadiazine treatment and works as well as pig skin.

The researchers hope that tilapia skin will soon be a commercially viable treatment.