The Pursuit and Development of Spider Silk

Historisch gezien is het idee van een stof gemaakt van spinnenzijde die sterk genoeg is om extreme krachten te weerstaan, zoals geraakt worden door kogels, maar zacht en comfortabel genoeg om als normaal te dragen, alledaagse kleding al d eeu mawen . until recently, he could produce it.

In the early 1700s, the first recorded use of spider silk was made by Francois-Xavier Bon de Saint-Iler, a Frenchman who managed to collect enough silk directly from spiders to buy gloves, socks and even a full suit for his king. Produce. Louis XIV. It is said that he collected hundreds of spiders at a time and put them in boxes to return and find only a few because spiders tend to eat each other when they do.

A little more than a hundred years later, a Spaniard named Raimondo de Termeyer, who worked in Italy, was able to sew a pair of stockings and a scarf for Emperor Napoleon and his then wife, Empress Josephine. He was able to do this with the machine he invented, which immobilized the spider and removed the silk without damaging the spider.

In the late 1800s, a French Jesuit missionary named Jacob Paul Cambue, who lived in Madagascar, began experimenting with extracting silk from spiders. He then collaborated with another Frenchman who walked past Mr. Nogue, and, inspired by Termeyer’s design, created a hand-crafted machine capable of extracting silk from 24 spiders at a time and combining them into one continuous thread. Using this machine, the team was able to create a set of bed linen, presented at the World Exhibition 1900 in Paris.

As recently as 2004, Simon Pearce and Nicholas Godley, using a drawing documented by Kamboe and Nogue, tried to recreate the machine and create their own spider silk. Every morning they collected new spiders, “treated” them on their own and sent them back to the wild when they were graduating. The whole process was extremely slow, and the amount of silk that could be obtained at each rotation was very minimal, as the production of one gram of silk required about 23,000 spiders. So, in five years, with the help of more than a million spiders and half a million dollars spent, they finally produced enough silk to weave a single gold cape decorated with intricately embroidered patterns and applications depicting spiders. make stuff. This cloak is considered incredibly strong, but as soft as cashmere.

Milk spiders for silk can also be used not only for textiles, but also for other purposes. An ancient cure for wounds that had already been used in the Roman Empire was to collect spider silk and apply it directly to the wound to facilitate the healing process. On this basis, the Department of Plastic Surgery, Brush Surgery and Reconstructive Surgery of the Hanover Medical School has developed a way to use a woven silk mesh, taken directly from Nephila spp spiders, to create “artificial skin” that can be applied to the skin. to restore it without any reaction from the immune system. They did this by placing normal skin cells on a mesh of spider silk and, under the right conditions, created the outer and inner layers of the skin in just a week. It can be used as a natural alternative to plastic surgery for the recurrence of burns and skin injuries.

Due to the large number of spiders needed to produce only a small amount of silk, and the cannibalistic nature of spiders, unfortunately, it is impossible to get silk directly from them. Knowing this, many companies and organizations are now trying to get around this problem by hastily developing and selling fibers that have properties similar to natural spider silk.

In 1993, Dr. Jeffrey Turner and Paul Ballard were founded in Montreal by Nexia Biotechnologies Inc. Initially, it worked and did not produce lactose-free milk, but it took a new direction when Dr. Jeff Turner invited them to work on incorporating spider DNA into milk to produce spider silk proteins. Having been licensed to study one of the world’s leading spider silk researchers, Dr. Randy Lewis, they isolated and cloned spider silk proteins and were eventually able to produce 10 grams of spider silk protein in goat’s milk in 2002. they produced a small amount of protein with each batch of milk collected and turned some of it into a fiber, which they called “Biosteel ™.” Unfortunately, due to the extremely limited amount of protein that could be produced, in addition to the high cost of producing these proteins, they found that the business was unsustainable. They eventually sold most of their assets in 2005 and finally declared bankruptcy in 2009.

Dr. Randy Lewis did not give up and was determined to develop this idea further. He took the idea of “spider goats” and drew a parallel with Nexia Biotechnologies, creating his own breeds while working at the University of Wyoming. He also talked to Dr. Don Jarvis, a renowned professor of molecular biology specializing in silkworms at the University of Wyoming, about somehow incorporating spider DNA into a silkworm in the same way as goats.

Meanwhile, Kim Thompson, a corporate lawyer who is very interested in the production of artificial spider silk, contacted Dr. Malcolm Fraser of the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Fraser was one of the first scientists to work on the first transgenic silkworms, and one of the researchers who was able to develop a method of replacing DNA in a certain part of an insect by another sequence. He called it “piggyBac.” Thompson was very interested in using this method to replace the DNA of the spider’s mulberry silkworm. Together, Thompson and Fraser contacted Lewis and Jarvis and decided to work together on the creation of this artificial spider silk.

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