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Artificial Skin Made From Spider Silk

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the wall-crawler dept.

Medicine 49

Tissue engineer Hanna Wendt has released a study about using spider silk to create artificial skin. The study found that "spider silks display excellent mechanical features that even rival man-made, high-tech fibers," but didn't mention anything about patients gaining the ability to climb walls or sense impending danger. From the article: "Despite being impressed by how human cells responded to spider silk, Wendt thinks the use of synthetic fibers must be considered, especially since harvesting large amounts of spider silk is not practical."

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Impracticality (1)

airconswitch (2038108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069208)

What do you mean harvesting large amounts of spider silk is impractical? We have farm designs already. []

Re:Impracticality (1)

mfh (56) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069230)

Can we please set up an IPO for this? I'm game!

Re:Impracticality (2)

Adriax (746043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069732)

It'll never hit mainstream, it's being suppressed by the silk industry to keep prices high.
Just like the coal and oil industry and water reactors. Our energy needs could be a thing of the past just by creating a running water loop with a pump, and power that pump with a water wheel running off the water loop.

Re:Impracticality (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069846)

The linked article is for a game.

Re:Impracticality (1)

Adriax (746043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070256)

Yeah, I know. []

You do know you're only supposed to point out jokes wooshing over other people's heads, not your own.

Whooooosh (nt) (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 2 years ago | (#37072134)

NT dammit

Re:Impracticality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37069948)

more interestingly, there is a company outside montreal canada that has crossed Spiders with Goats. The Milk of the goat has high concentrations of the enzyme that is responsible for spider webbing.

just cant remember the name of the company off the top of my head...

Re:Impracticality (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070488)

Is the name of the company "Hey Fuck You Mother Nature, Inc." by any chance?

Re:Impracticality (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070540)

Spidergoat, spidergoat, does whatever a spidergoat does...

Re:Impracticality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37070752)

Just don't tell those damned dirty elves. They'll find some excuse to throw a fit.

That all depends... (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069228)

on how many spiders you got, mate.

Now, I'm willing to make a deal on this lot. Something to get you "over the hump", shall we say.

When I tell you, I think you'll like my price.

There's more where I got them from. So be a good boy: go and tell your little friends about it, right?

Re:That all depends... (2)

rthille (8526) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070394)

You don't need spiders, you just need goats... []

Doesn't work. (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#37073344)

Goats are too dangerous, just imagine one falling from the ceiling and actually hitting someone!

Getting close (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37069244)

Now if you just made the silk radioactive.....

Lots O' Silk... (2)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069264)

Up in the corners of my living room ceiling, there's a supply good for 1-2 years at least...

Same problem as every other spider silk use (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069332)

It is great and all that they found this to be a viable material for creating skin grafts, but it seems to suffer from the same problems as every other spider silk application or for that mater every novel new material. Basically we can't produce it in useable commercial quantities.

Re:Same problem as every other spider silk use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37070118)

Don't worry that is what Spider Goats are for, see "" (unfortunately not as cool as it sounds).

Not exactly "made from" spider silk (3, Informative)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069348)

It's actually grown on spider silk, much like culture grown on a petri dish. They need a suitable substrate to grow it on, but they cultured the skin itself from actual human skin cells.

Re:Not exactly "made from" spider silk (1)

Slash.research_Kat (2195516) | more than 2 years ago | (#37075674)

apparently, another finding was that the cells grow fairly quick on spider silk....

I can see the press release now (1)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069360)

"Have you ever had that feeling like spiders were crawling all over your skin? Well, modern science has just developed this new artificial skin..."

Spidey Sense (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069410)

Cool... Does having spider-silk skin give you the ability to walk up walls- have "spidey senses" and dates with um... whatshername- that red headed girl that played Mary Jane.

Re:Spidey Sense (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069524)

Wow... Sometimes people don't RTFA- I didn't RTF-Abstract properly... I feel stupid now...

Bigger spiders? (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069554)

Perhaps we need to breed some much larger spiders? Nothing could possibly go wrong....

Re:Bigger spiders? (1)

Kafei (2436448) | more than 2 years ago | (#37075918)

Like Shelob big? Dayum.

Precedent Re:Bigger spiders? (1)

cyberfringe (641163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37079192)

Scientists have done this with dragonflies: Giant Dragonflies [] .

Used since at least the middle ages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37069672)

Cobwebs were a common treatment for wounds

gene mod silk worms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37069774)

As far as I can see this company is the closest to large scale spider silk production is @
Supposedly they have modified standard silk worms to express spider silk proteins. While not pure spidersilk, the fact that it's piggybacked on top of the silk worm genome means that once they are successful they will be able to rely on the centuries’ worth of know-how, experience and infrastructure associated with silk production to generate commercially viable quantities of 'spider' silk.

They are traded on the PINKs exchange, and there is alot of BS companies flying around there, that do nothing more than steal your money. But at the same time these guys originally did the research at the U of N.D., so that does land them some extra credulence.

DISCLAIMER: I hold a small position in their stock (KBLB), but I’m not trying to pump or anything like that. Just thought it was some very neat science and bought in, probably not best factor to base financial decisions on. (0)

shopvipzone (2434808) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069934)

sport shoes,sport jerseys,designer handbags, caps and hats, brand watches, Please browse our website:

spider goat (1)

AnotherBlackHat (265897) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070112)

... since harvesting large amounts of spider silk is not practical.

No problem, just cross-breed spiders with goats to make a goat that can be milked for silk.
Or you could just buy one pre-bred. ISTR Nexia selling theirs.

Re:spider goat (1)

Baby Duck (176251) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070416)

I actually bought a lot of stock in Nexia Biotechnologies when it used to be publicly traded. However, most of their IP got sold to I believe was a Virginia based company. It was the spider goat program that made me invest.

They had a grand plan to make genetically modified crops that grew the silk protein in their leaves. You would harvest them, grind them, and extract the proteins.

However, the problem with both the goats and crops was how to spin the proteins into fibers. That is very costly. Much bigger strides were being made with nanotubes when looking at $/inch. Nanotubes were being also being considered for just about every application the spider silk was. With Nexia being the only company doing R&D with spider silk and dozens others with huge warchests going down the nanotube path, it was easy to see that nanotubes would either get to market first or soon thereafter overshadow the silk.

Re:spider goat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37072622)

From Dr. Randy Lewis, molecular biologist, University of Wyoming:
"We are also making transgenic silkworms that produce the spider silk protein along with their own silk protein in making the cocoon fibers. There is long ways to go on that to get fibers that are as good as the spider's but it does work."

mod 04 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37070334)

"harvesting large amounts not practical..."? (1)

tomzyk (158497) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070766)

I distinctly recall reading several articles (probably about 10 years ago?) saying how scientists were able to generate large quantities of spider silk ["synthetic" spider silk? call it whatever you want...] by genetically altering cows and just milking them. The silk could then be extracted from the cow milk.

After 10 years, no one has tried to improve on this extraction process? Kinda baffling that they would even start down that path if they weren't really going to follow up on it...

I've got you under my skin... (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070836)

Arrrggg! My Morgellon's is flaring up.

It's all fine ... (1)

shugah (881805) | more than 2 years ago | (#37072644)

Until some NASA engineer steals your skin to build a space elevator.

excellent mechanical features (1)

zig43 (1422373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37072976)

"spider silks display excellent mechanical features"

So does that mean I can replace my skin with this new skin and be impervious to being cut?

WTB Spider silk! (1)

xmorg (718633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37073254)

PLz tell meh wher ei can phArM spider silks, so i can get some phat lewt at the action house!!!!!

Prior art? (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#37073388)

There is this old folk-remedy of putting a sider web on an open wound to make it heal faster.

Heard this one from Grandma, if I could only find a written source..

Re:Prior art? (1)

cyberfringe (641163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37079156)

Here you go!

Arachnicillin []

"I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good master cobweb... If I cut my finger, I shall make bold of you."
- The character Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

Re:Prior art? (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#37083382)


That is amazing. I read A Midsummer Night's Dream but I must have missed the cob web..

Use Spider Goats for Quantity (1)

X86Daddy (446356) | more than 2 years ago | (#37073648)

C'mon, has everyone forgotten about Spider [] Goats [] ? The progress has appeared slow (those articles are a decade apart), but that's possibly due to the more-military-than-civilian applications thus far.

Re:Use Spider Goats for Quantity (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37079168)

C'mon, has everyone forgotten about Spider Goats?

Not everybody, which is why I checked before working too hard on a joke about not gaining the power to climb walls and squirt webs, but instead to smell capricious and fuck anything that moves and some things that don't move.

Still has movie potential.

Re:Use Spider Goats for Quantity (1)

cyberfringe (641163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37079172)

See also my post below about the adventures of the transgenic goats before they got to Wyoming, original at Transgenic goats []

Bulletproof skin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37074166)

You might want to check out this science/art project from a few months back:
They made actual bulletproof skin using human skin and spidersilk.

Re:Bulletproof skin (1)

sirevert (2436414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37074322)

It is BioArt and excited. Jalila Essaïdi grew the spidersilk which she got from Randy Lewis his transgenic goats and silkworms in between the dermis and epidermis of a human skin model used for animal friendly tests, creating bulletproof skin. I've seen this project in Leiden, The Netherlands in the National History Museum, including a movie of bullets piercing and being stopped by the skin recorded at 30.000 fps.

Darn city kids don' no' nuthin' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37075028)

Just go out an milk em! And hurry! The chicken coop has to be swept before the school bus arrives!

Farming spiders: (1)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37077772)

I was riding a bike in South Korea once when I saw a dumpster full of manure on a farm. It was underneath a roof, and between the rafters and the sides of the dumpster, there was a thick veil of spider webs. There were hundreds of spiders living on this web, taking the flies that went for the cow shit, I presume. I don't know the name of the species, but they look similar to what are called "banana spiders" in the midwest US. They are black and yellow, and the females have leg spans of something like 3-4 inches. Also, this story reminds me of a storyline in "Franken Fran," where a neat freak corporate exec who is deathly afraid of roaches is horribly burned, then Fran replaces her skin with skin grown on the chitin of cockroaches.

Spider Silk from Transgenic Goats (1)

cyberfringe (641163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37079128)

"After injecting spider genes into a goat, a silk-like material, dubbed BioSteel®, is extracted from the goat's milk. Because of its compatibility with the human body, BioSteel appears to have some remarkable real-life applications (artificial limbs, tendons and ligaments). It is stronger than steel with a breaking strength of 300,000 pounds per square inch."

This research was being done by a company called "Nexia Technologies", which unfortunately went bankrupt. One might ask what happened to the goats. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research took an interest and rescued them. There is an interesting story associated with that at The Story of the Transgenic Goats (continued) [] .

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