Collagen: The ‘mother’ of scaffold proteins

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Continuing our coverage of various scaffolds used in tissue engineering applications, this week we will focus on collagen.

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins found in connective tissue. It is also one of the most studied extracellular matrix proteins – so far, 29 different types of collagen have been discovered. The tissue engineering field has taken advantage of this – as well as of other beneficial properties of collagen – by making it an important  building block of a number of tissue scaffolds. Collagen can be readily isolated and used as coatings or soft tissue substitutes. Despite its ubiquity, the most common sources of collagen for tissue engineering applications are bovine skin and tendons, porcine skin, rat tail and sponges (Parenteau-Bareil, 2010, Materials 2010, 3, 1863-1887). Type 1 collagen has been used in crosslinked form, when crosslinked in the presence of glycosaminoglycans or hydroxyapatite (Panda et al., 2014, Journal of Material Science, Polymer Edition, 24(18):2031-2044).

Numerous studies have demonstrated that collagen can promote proliferation and differentiation of stem cells, as well as serve as a “reservoir” for growth factors and signaling molecules (Wang et al., 2008, Biomacromolecules, 9:2929-2936). Within the context of scaffolds  they are often used with the addition of growth factors and stem cells, and their use dates back over two decades.

There are a number of collagen-based tissue engineering products that are on the market. One of the earliest FDA-approved collagen-containing scaffolds is Organogenesis’ Apligraf (fibroblast-collagen scaffold for skin ulcers), which won approval in 1998. Others include Medtronics’s inFUSE bone graft, which won approval in 2002, as well as Stryker Biotech’s OP-1 Implant, which was approved that same year. Clearly, collagen-based scaffolds have a long history of clinical trials and successful therapeutic applications.

There is still a wealth of ongoing research on collagen scaffolds. Recently, the use of collagen in 3D cell cultures has been a very promising and active area of research (Yu et al., 2013, Stem Cells and Development). Akron Biotech have been actively researching and developing new scaffold combinations. We successfully electrospun collagen scaffolds in sterile ready-to-use, in 6 and 24 well inserts. Other combinations  are available upon request. Contact us at info@akronbiotech.com for information and pricing.

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