Collagen is structural protein found in all higher organisms, but mimicking its unique chemical and physical properties remains a challenge for scientists. Now, researchers in the USA have turned to de novo design methods to create nanostructured biological materials that self-assemble from peptides and proteins into fibrous mimics of collagen. Shyam Rele, Elliot Chaikof and Vince Conticello of the Laboratory of Bio/Molecular Engineering and Advanced Vascular Technologies at Emory University School of Medicine have successfully designed and synthesized the first ever synthetic collagen peptide system using units just 36 amino acids long. The natural-looking D-periodicity of the synthetic collagen is approximately 18 nanometers. However, it is the high propensity for self-association through a nucleation-growth mechanism even at low concentration and neutral pH that make them most interesting from a medical applications point of view.
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