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Walk Like a Spider

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Found at: https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7134/6886948252_25941bdd4a_b.jpg

Wendy Carter, Reporter

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Science has had a new breakthrough in the field of medicine: scientists have found a way to use spider silk to create artificial ligaments for human transplant and regeneration of tendons. Spider silk is a valuable material for tendons and ligaments because it evokes very little or no immune response which limits rejections.

The specific protein that makes the spider silk strong is called dragline silk (or spider major ampullate silk), this is a protein in the silk with the unique characteristics of strength and elasticity. Silk’s tensile strength is greater than that of steel when this protein is included in the type of silk.

Unfortunately, collecting enough silk for production of ligaments is problematic, and using individual spiders for collection of silk is strenuous. Spiders are territorial, so when scientists tried to set up spider silk farms the spiders fought each other.

But scientists are deciding to put the spiders’ dragline silk into goats in such a way that the goats would make the protein in their milk. Scientists will collect the milk from the goats when they have kids and start lactating. They will then purify the spider silk protein into much larger quantities–eventually spinning it into the silk they can then use to create artificial ligaments. 

We are entering a new age in medical advancements: from spider silk ligaments, to sequencing our genomes, we are learning to treat new diseases in new ways to better ourselves for future generations.

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