Friday, December 03, 2004

Does Whatever a Spider Can

Does Whatever a Spider Can

A joint Israeli German team were able to replicate spider webs outside the bodies of spiders:

Created out of genes from the bodies of the spiders themselves, the webs are much stronger than silk and could be used in the manufacture of bullet-proof vests, surgical threat and fishing rods, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

I just saw about 2/3 of the first Spiderman movie so this is cool to read about. Although the original comic book had Peter Parker (Spiderman's alter ego) develop webbing from chemicals, the movie has it that Peter develops the ability to shoot webs biologically due to his altered genes.
Hmm. Do you think the moviemakers knew something?
How did the scientists synthesize spider webbing?

Natural webs contain silks from certain proteins and in order to duplicate such properties the scientists used genes from the garden spider which contain a protein known as dragline silk.
And what are its benefits?
Characterised by its strength and elasticity, dragline silk is six times stronger than nylon and steel fibre of the same diameter, the paper said.
"From a practical viewpoint, mass production of fibres whose diameter is one-thousandth of a millimetre is likely to be useful in the future for the manufacture of bulletproof vests, surgical thread, micro-conductors, optical fibres and fishing rods," said Israeli developmental biologist Uri Gat.
"Even new types of clothing may be envisioned."

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