Products made from spider silk
Even in ancient times the Romans and Greeks were aware of the extraordinary properties of spider silk. They used the webs as soft wound dressings for injured skin. Spider silk threads are in diameter only about one tenth as thick as human hair, but more tear-resistant than steel.
Creating artificial spider threads is extremely complicated. Wild spiders cannot be bred and their silk cannot be extracted. A German biotech firm has found a different solution to obtain spider silk protein – it relies on bacteria. The bacteria are modified so that the spider silk can be produced in a bioreactor. The protein itself is a crumbly white powder. Its first application: the coating of silicon pads that are used as breast implants. The spider silk – a natural product – reduces the inflammatory effects of the silicon.
In the meantime, spider silk protein can even be spun into fibres, creating many other potential uses. As a result of this, ultra-lightweight, extremely strong ropes or bulletproof vests could be created.