Spiderman web comes closer to reality
London, Jan 5 (ANI): Scientists are now one step closer to creating Spider-Man web after developing genetically modified silkworms that can spin tougher and stronger silk.
Scientists from the University of Wyoming have stated that their eventual aim is to produce silk from worms that has the toughness of spider silk.
Compared to spiders, which are unfeasible to "farm" for the commercial production of their silk because the arachnids do not produce enough of it - coupled with their proclivity for eating each other, silkworms are easy to farm and produce vast amounts of silk.
Researchers have tried for years to get the best of both worlds - super-strong silk in industrial quantities - by transplanting genes from spiders into worms. But the resulting genetically modified worms have not produced enough spider silk until now, the BBC reported.
GM worms produced by a team led by Professor Don Jarvis of Wyoming University apparently produced a composite of worm and spider silk in large amounts - which the researchers say is just as tough as spider silk.
According to Dr Christopher Holland from the University of Oxford, the development indicates a step toward being able to produce toughened silk commercially.
"Essentially, what this paper has shown is that they are able to take a component of spider silk and make a silkworm spin it into a fibre alongside its own silk," he said.
"They have also managed to show that this composite, which contains bits of spider silk and mainly the silkworms' own silk, has improved mechanical properties," Dr Holland added.
The main applications could be in the medical sector creating stronger sutures, implants and ligaments. But the GM spider silk could also be used as a greener alternative for toughened plastics, which need a lot of energy to produce.
The study has been published in the PNAS journal. (ANI)
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