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Friday
Nov172006

Collagens New Structure: Math for dermatologists.

MIT's new model shows collagen's structure from the atomic to the tissue scale.

collagen-enlarged.jpgAn MIT researcher's mathematical model explains for the first time the distinctive structure of collagen, a material key to healthy human bone, muscles and other tissues. The new model shows collagen's structure from the atomic to the tissue scale.

An improved understanding of nature's most abundant protein could aid the search for cures to such ailments as osteoporosis, joint hyperextensibility and scurvy, all recognized as arising from diseased collagen. It could also guide engineers' development of synthetic versions of the protein, which in its healthy state is several times stronger than steel per molecule.

..."The response of materials to tensile loading has been studied in materials science for computer chips, cars and buildings, but is still poorly understood for biological materials. What we are doing is looking at biological systems on a molecular level, the same way we would examine glass or metal," said Buehler. "This represents a new way of thinking about biological matter, and it may hold the key to engineering biological systems as we design man-made devices today."

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