Rice Uni Logo The last we heard about stem cell therapies was a report that claimed to eliminate its side effects. Now, scientists from the Rice University have seemingly unleashed a new technique for producing artificial collagen.

This new substance apparently forms from a liquid in just 1 hour and has many attributes similar to natural collagen. It is also touted to be beneficial for creating new tissues and organs from cells.

“Our work is significant in two ways. Our final product more closely resembles native collagen than anything that’s previously been made, and we make that material using a self-assembly process that is remarkably similar to processes found in nature,” cited Rice’s Jeffrey Hartgerink, the lead author of a new paper about the research in Nature Chemistry.

Collagen is one of the principal constituents of many tissues like skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and blood vessels. Biomedical professionals appear to use stem cells coupled with collagen-like matter for regenerative medicine or tissue engineering. Collagen obtained from animals supposedly has certain inborn immunological risks and is used in many cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries presently.

Though collagen is found in the body in huge quantities, recreating it has been a tough job for researchers. Collagen fibers made of a multitude of peptides seem to form 3 dimensional structures known as hydrogels which retain water. The supramolecules, fibers and hydrogels in this research are presumably formulated like the native collagen, but begin with shorter peptides.

With a view to replicate collagen’s self assembly process precisely, the team took many years to craft the peptide design perfectly. Hartgerink, expressed that use of this synthetic collagen instead of human or animal-derived collagen for medicinal purposes cannot be affirmed as yet. Nevertheless, the enzyme that breaks bodily collagen seemingly does the same to this new material too.

Hartgergink concludes that their next step is to see if cells breed in artificial collagen and whether they perform the same role in the body as the natural collagen. Clinical trials are still afar.