Spider Silk Could Be the Potential Bandage of the Future


You know that scene from the Amazing Spiderman where Peter Parker bandages his knee wound with his spider web? Well, that is soon to become a reality. Scientists have recently designed a synthetic spider silk which has antibiotics to be able to heal and close off all the bleeding wounds, that too with the least amount of infection risks.

After 5 years of thorough research and work, scientists from the University of Nottingham have managed to create this synthetic spider silk from the E-coli bacteria, which will not only bandage but also deliver drugs to your wound.

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Spider silk in history

Spider silk is an amazing material. It is biodegradable, protein-based, and is known to cause no allergic reactions or infections.

You know what the cool part about spider silk is? It has been used for medicinal purposes since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. That’s right. The soldiers used honey with vinegar on wounds as an antiseptic and then wrapped it around with spider silk to control the bleeding.

What the scientists are doing now is mixing that old technique with modern technology. Instead of using authentic spider silk, they formed synthetic strands out of E-coli in the lab.

The process

"Our technique allows the rapid generation of bio-compatible, mono or multi-functionalised silk structures for use in a wide range of applications," said Neil Thomas, a corresponding author from the University of Nottingham. "These will be particularly useful in the fields of tissue engineering and bio-medicine."

The spider silks are ‘decorated’ with the anti-biotic levofloxacin, which is used to treat bacterial infections. This process is achieved when the solution is being made of synthetic spider silk, and the molecules of this antibiotic are ‘clicked’ into place before the strands are made.

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The process is identical to the yarn making process. Before the strands are made, all the additives like dyes are added and then the strands come out with those added properties and made into a ball of yarn. The team is achieving the same process on a micro scale. We’re talking about molecular structures here.

When further tests are done to solidify the results of this synthetic spider silk, the fields of bio-medicine and tissue engineering are up for an amazing breakthrough once again.