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Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, forming strong sheets and cables that support the structure of skin, internal organs, cartilage and bones, as well as all the connective tissues in between.
“It is so far the most stable collagen ever made," said Professor of Chemistry, Ron Raines, University of Wisconsin-Madison who led the study.
For decades, doctors have used collagen from cows to treat serious burns and other wounds in humans despite the risk of tissue rejection associated with cross-species transplants.
In 2006, Raines' team figured out how to make human collagen in the lab. They created collagen molecules longer than that found in nature.
Now, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the researchers have taken this line of inquiry one step further by creating a form of super-strong collagen that may one day help millions.
Raines said that this artificial collagen is seen as a therapy for conditions such as arthritis, which is caused by a breakdown of the body's natural collagen.