Scientists Make Spider Silk-Like Fiber From Bacteria
Researchers have invented a new method to manufacture the sturdy natural material.
Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and his team have developed a method to produce spider-silk like fiber from bacterium. Spider silk is considered stronger than steel, yet finer than human hair, and makes for an ideal material for several applications such as in protective clothing and aircraft materials.
Lee's system to manufacture the material closely resembled the process spiders employ to make their silk. Innovations Report explains:
For the successful expression of high molecular weight spider silk protein, Professor Lee and his colleagues pieced together the silk gene from chemically synthesized oligonucleotides, and then inserted it into the expression host (in this case, an industrially safe bacterium Escherichia coli which is normally found in our gut). The KAIST team performed high-cell-density cultures for mass production of the recombinant spider silk protein. Then, the team developed a simple, easy to scale-up purification process for the recombinant spider silk protein. The purified spider silk protein could be spun into beautiful silk fiber.