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Scientists Develop Antibiotic Spider Silk For Variety of Uses

Update Date: Jan 05, 2017 06:13 PM EST

It seems the things once read and imagined in science fiction have been brought to the real world thanks to many relentless and inquisitive minds. Recently, scientists have developed antibiotic spider silk that not only sounds cool but will help more lives if introduced to the rest of the world. 

Researchers from the University of Nottingham were able to develop a much practical use of spider silk by developing an antibiotic synthetic version that can be used in tissue regeneration, wound healing and even drug delivery.

The study, published in Advanced Materials, was able to artificially produce spider silk synthesized by E. coli, and then would be attached to molecules of antibiotics or fluorescent dyes. The process used by the scientists is called click chemistry.

Click chemistry is when chosen molecules are 'clicked' into place on the silk protein before or after it is turned into fibers. This means that the process can be easily tailored to specific needs and more than one type of molecules can be "clicked" into the synthetic spider silk.

The scientists found out that the antibiotic molecules can be slowly released from the spider silk, and it can retain its anti-bacterial properties for at least five days.

"Our technique allows the rapid generation of biocompatible, mono or multi-functionalized silk structures for use in a wide range of applications. These will be particularly useful in the fields of tissue engineering and biomedicine", Professor Neil Thomas from the School of Chemistry said in a report by

The synthetic spider silk is strong, biocompatible, and biodegradable and does not cause any allergic or inflammatory reactions.

One of the possible uses of the antibiotic synthetic spider silk is in treating slow-healing wounds in diabetic patients. The synthetic spider silk will not only help treat the wound due to its antibiotic properties, it can also help regenerate cells and tissues to close up the wound.

The inter-disciplinary team under Professor Neil Thomas from the School of Chemistry and Dr. Sara Goodacre from the School of Life Sciences have lead Ph.D. students in developing and exploring other uses of the synthetic spider silk. The antibiotic synthetic spider silk is just the beginning of this cool scientific adventure.

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