In what could be a breakthrough for the treatment of serious illnesses like cancer and schizophrenia, Australian medical trials have successfully used seaweed cells to reproduce human tissue and bone.
Seaweed cells, which use a gel-like substance to bond together, have been mixed with human stem cells in a study by the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute at Wollongong University in New South Wales.
According to an ABC report, the findings of the study provide huge potential for the treatment of diseases like arthritis, schizophrenia and cancer.
“The range and diversities of the chemistries available that can be extracted from seaweed gives us an untapped source of biomaterials that can be basically tailored for applications like 3D printing,” the institute’s director, Professor Gordon Wallace, says.
“We really are just scratching the surface at the moment.”
Unlike most other plants, seaweed cells do not have vascular tissue and, in gel form, can work with stem cells to regenerate bone and tissue, specifically knee-cap cartilage, the study has found.
Seaweed’s benefits are not just limited to the medical industry, with its food and agricultural potential meaning the global seaweed market is worth about $6 billion per year.
Thankfully, Australia has a large number of native varieties.