Scientists genetically modify silkworms to spin spider silk

A pioneering breakthrough in China has made it possible to produce spider silk, famous for its incredible strength, using an unexpected source: silkworms.

Scientists have achieved a breakthrough in spider silk production by genetically modifying silkworms, offering significant potential for diverse applications beyond clothing, including surgical sutures and smart materials.

Spider silk, known for its remarkable strength and potential environmental advantages over synthetic fibers, has long been of interest to researchers.

Researchers led by Junpeng Mi, a doctoral student at Donghua University’s School of Biological Sciences and Medical Engineering, achieved a breakthrough by genetically modifying silkworms. These genetically modified silkworms can now produce viable spider silk.

Unlike spiders, silkworms are much easier to mass-breed. Scientists have used the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technique to introduce spider silk protein genes into the DNA of silkworms, allowing these proteins to be expressed in their glands.

This achievement could pave the way for large-scale production of spider silk and open up new possibilities in materials engineering.

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Acerca de Andrey Robles

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