Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a new biomaterial, made entirely from discarded bullfrog skin and fish scales that could help in bone repair. The porous biomaterial, which contains the same compounds that are predominant in bones, acts as a scaffold for bone-forming cells to adhere to and multiply, leading to the formation of new bone. Ms Chelsea Wan, director of Jurong Frog Farm, said: “The aquaculture industry is an important avenue to meet the global growing demand for safe and quality seafood, but a big challenge we face is the huge wastage and downcycling of valuable aquatic resources. In Singapore, the combined annual consumption of frog flesh and fish is estimated to be around 100 million kilograms, making bullfrog skin and fish scales two of the largest aquaculture waste side streams here. The integration of multiple seafood waste streams into a single high value product is a leading example of sustainable innovation for the aquaculture industry. Prof Tay said: “We took the ‘waste-to-resource’ approach to turn discards into a high-value material. The potential of biomaterial is very broad, ranging from repairing bone defects due to injury or ageing, to dental applications for aesthetics. Our research builds on NTU’s body of work in the area of sustainability and is in line with Singapore’s circular economy approach towards a zero-waste nation.”

Team further evaluating the long-term safety and efficacy of the biomaterial as dental products and aims to bring the waste-to-resource technological pipeline closer to commercialization.