Lady Scientist Wants to Create Bullet Proof Humans With Goat-Milk Spider-Silk
You’ve probably heard about goat-milk spider silk, before, right? No?
Well, the scientists who want to work with spider silk often find that spiders aren’t really worth the trouble. As animals that most people are grossed out by, animals that are predators, and animals that have a tendency to instinctually eat each other if they are placed in the same space, spiders can be difficult to care for in large numbers. Hence, spider goats: (relatively) small, hardy, aesthetically pleasing and sociable animals that have been genetically engineered to produce the proteins that make up spider silk in their milk.
The proteins, once chromatographically separated from the rest of the milk, can be woven into fibers with applications in medicine and industry, including bullet proof materials. But as if that simply wasn’t mad science-y enough for the world and something even more crazy awesome had to be done, Jalila Essaidi is bringing the use of goat milk spider silk even closer to home. She’s trying to use it to make bullet proof humans.
Essaidi spins the protein into fiber that is ten times stronger than steel, and mixes it with human skin.
Basically she’s created a fiber matrix of the protein, laced liberally with human skin cells. The result is a composite of human skin that can actually stop bullets…
Eventually, the idea is to completely replace the keratin in a person’s skin with spider silk, however, currently Essaidi has had to settle for more modest goals. Her current bulletproof prototype is a matrix of spider silk sandwiched between two layers of human skin cells grown in a petri dish.
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