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  • Ah, Spider's web is more than just a spider's house.

  • This homemade, glistening material has some Spidey's strength of its own.

  • Spider silk is tougher than Kevlar, more flexible than nylon and thinner than a single strand of human hair, making this super material one of the strongest materials in the world.

  • Biological or man made and the combination of its strength and stretch is exactly why scientists are obsessed with cloning spider silk.

  • Now there are seven types of spider silks, but one has caught the eye of scientists worldwide.

  • It's called dragline silk, and it's the silk that they used to make the framework of the Web and the Radio I.

  • But they also The reason it's called dragline is is that whenever they walk, they leave the silk behind.

  • This is Randy Lewis, a molecular biologist at Utah State University known for his pioneering efforts in producing synthetic spider silk.

  • Now, Lewis and other scientists say that silk is so strong it could be used in advances in artificial ligaments, surgical suitors and hernia mesh is while other spider threads rely on one protein.

  • This one combines two with protein structures that build on lock onto each other, almost like Legos.

  • This build up the strand strength and elasticity with bonds so strong even water can't penetrate them.

  • But you can't just take these silks from spiders.

  • Spiders air, actually notoriously bad at spitting their own threads.

  • They'll make strands that are inconsistent in diameter, making them fine for this, but not necessarily for this.

  • So Lewis and his team have had to turn to other methods is in terms of spider silk protein.

  • We've got to find a cheap way to make it.

  • Randy and his team took the spider silk team from their lab and decided to transfer it into other organisms to see if protein production could happen through other processes.

  • Now we started with bacteria because they're easy, they're fast.

  • But researchers also tried to see if they could grow it in plants like alfalfa or insert the spider silk laden bacteria into goats.

  • We moved the gene from our bacteria into goats, and so they produced the spider silk protein in the milk, and we collect the milk and purify the spider silk protein from that, but the most efficient method, they discovered silkworms.

  • This method is still being used today with Lewis's lab, both making and spinning synthetic spider thread.

  • The next up is actually using it.

  • We know that that certainly has possibilities for artificial ligaments and artificial tendons, because we know that we can make material right now.

  • That's stronger than the human tendon for the same diameter.

  • And it's not just tendons and ligaments.

  • Researchers have been experimenting with using spider threads to reconnect severed nerves.

  • Traditionally, nerve repair is often limited to gap smaller than three centimeters, using transplanted nerves or hollow conduits to fill the space.

  • But spider silk can actually extend beyond that length without becoming brittle and breaking.

  • This makes it very, very special.

  • This is Christine Radke, who led a team of researchers to develop a technique using spider silk to connect damage nerves.

  • And we had a gap in a nerve.

  • And in that gap we put in longitudinal direction, our spider sick, and we could see nerve regeneration over that gap.

  • The team tested this method on sheep since they found that sheeps nerves closely replicated those of humans, and they discovered that the nerve cells would use the spider silk almost like a trellis growing along the thread and on spiders.

  • They they go crazy, they proliferate.

  • That's exactly what we need for repair for regeneration.

  • So if the extremity iss moving, it doesn't rupture.

  • And on the other side, it's flexible as well.

  • And that's exactly what we need.

  • So it's a perfect material, and we only could find that in nature.

  • And then there's the recovery period.

  • Research has shown that human cells won't reject the spider, silk and rad keys.

  • Team has found that silken simply dissolve into the human body after doing its job.

  • So the Spider said will be there for a certain time.

  • And afterwards it will be degraded by macro founders so it will disappear.

  • So with all this possibility, the question is what has been done with these silks?

  • Absolutely nothing.

  • There's still a lot of hesitation around spider silks, and the Food and Drug Administration still have yet to approve the bio material for use in the medical industry and beyond.

  • Some simply see it as risky.

  • The next step will be a better.

  • We have to do clinical studies, and obviously as well.

  • Financing spider silk is also extremely expensive to make, so businesses would need to discover another cheaper way to make it so all this research and then nothing.

  • I think the whole idea of being able to design ah fiber with properties that we wanted tohave, rather than just taking what the spiders have given us so far, is also a big deal, and that work is still happening.

  • Other startups are looking to use the silk in medicinal fields, military applications and even as bio fabrics for things like bullet proof clothes.

  • So scientists can continue to learn from clothing, spider silks and designing the proteins, knowing that spider silks do hold a promising place in the future.

Ah, Spider's web is more than just a spider's house.

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How Spider Silk Could Change The World

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/24
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