Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden
Spider silk is well known for its extreme mechanical properties, this natural fiber is tougher than any other man-made fiber. Spider silk has also been used in traditional medicine to stop bleedings and to imprive wound healing. In animal studies, silk reeled from spiders has succesfully been employed to achieve nerve regeneration of injured peripheral nerves. I study spider silk with the aim to generate a biomaterial to be used in regenerative medicine and as matrix for cell culture.
We can produce artificial spider silk by letting bacteria produce partial spider silk proteins. These proteins self-assemble into fibers that match mammalian tendons in terms of tensile strength. However, to produce more defined fibers that can be employed for medical applications, we need to learn how to control the solubility and assembly of the silk proteins.