Collagen comes from a Greek word meaning “glue producing” and can be thought of as the glue that holds the body together. Collagen is the major component of the extracellular matrix (ECM), or connective tissue which supports, connects or separates tissue. Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals, comprising approximately 1/3 of the total protein in each mammalian organism and is the main constituent of skin, tendon and cartilage, as well as the organic component of teeth and bone. The basic structural unit of collagen is a triple-stranded helical molecule which has a greater tensile strength than steel. Biosynthesis and regulation of collagen is a complex biochemical and molecular process and it is the subject of considerable current scientific research.

The body normally responds to injury or certain diseases by forming scar tissue, the major component of which is collagen. The collagen observed in scar tissue is typically denser and less elastic than normal tissue and proliferation of this highly cross-linked collagen-abundant scar tissue often results in diminished physiological function, decreased range of motion in orthopedic conditions and obstructions in internal adhesions.

Excess formation of scar tissue is evident in many fibroproliferative medical conditions and it may be life threatening in cases where it affects the heart, lung, peritoneum and kidney. This process is commonly referred to as "fibrosis."