Extracellular matrix proteins like collagen promote regeneration as implants in clinical studies. However, collagens are large and unwieldy proteins, making small functional peptide analogs potentially ideal substitutes. Self-assembling collagen-like-peptides conjugated with PEG-maleimide were assembled into hydrogels. When tested pre-clinically as corneal implants in mini-pigs, they promoted cell and nerve regeneration, forming neo-corneas structurally and functionally similar to natural corneas.
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