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Friday, September 07, 2007

BIOSTEEL®

The next generation protective fabric technology is not far off! Visions of wear-resistant shoes and clothes, ropes, nets, seatbelts, and parachutes; and rustfree panels and bumpers for automobiles make for a research scientists wet dreams! So do improved sutures and bandages, artificial tendons and ligaments, and supports for weakened blood vessels. Soldiers and police are holding out for lightweight bulletproof vests made of spider silk!

BioSteel® is Nexia's recombinant dragline spider silk program and is based on using Nexia's transgenic goat technology. Spider silk has long been admired by material scientists for its unique combination of high-performance properties including toughness, strength, lightness and flexibility. Nexia has exclusive worldwide rights to broad patents covering spider silk genes and proteins and is in the process of developing a commercial spinning process for BioSteel®.

In order to construct ®, Nexia claims that they take a spiders dragline gene and genetically alter it and inject it into a goat embryo. From there, Nexia allows the goat to be born and fully develop. Next comes the milking process, since the dragline protein can only be found in Goat milk they can only extract the dragline gene from female goats. Nexia takes the goat milk and separates the milk from the silk concentrate.

╬▓-spiral models for relaxed and extended protein conformations in spider capture silk

spiderweb & representation of sythetic spider silk fibers
microscopic image of a spider's silk spigots

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