Synthetic spider silk could revolutionize drug delivery and wound care

Synthetic Spider Silk Could Revolutionize Drug Delivery And Wound Care-1

Boasting a wide range of impressive properties, including high extensibility, extremely high tensile strength and toughness, spider silk is a nature’s wonder that scientists have long tried to recreate in the laboratory. After five years of research, a team from the United Kingdom has finally managed to produce artificial spider silk that could revolutionize the way drugs are delivered inside our system.

According to the researchers, it’s amazing antibiotic qualities could also accelerate the healing process in case of open wounds, while keeping infection at bay. Synthesized from Escherichia coli bacteria, the newly-created material is known to adsorb molecules, which in turn makes it suitable for use as bandages. Speaking about the breakthrough, recently published in the Advanced Materials journal, Neil Thomas of the University of Nottingham said:

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.

In addition to being completely biodegradable and biocompatible, this protein-based substance is non-toxic, meaning that it doesn’t cause any kind of allergic or inflammatory reactions. In fact, this technique of wound dressing actually dates back to the era of ancient Greeks, who were known to use spider silk to stop bleeding in wounded soldiers. They first used a honey-vinegar solution to clean the wounds, which were then covered tightly in this wonder material.

Harvesting of spider silk on a large scale has become increasingly difficult over the centuries, forcing scientists to look for ways to produce it artificially in the laboratory. As pointed out by the scientists, this innovative dressing derives it antibiotic properties from the drug called levofloxacin, used primarily to fight bacterial infections. To that end, the molecules of the drug are carefully placed into a solution of spider silk strand until the proteins synthesize into a sturdier material. Talking about her teammate Neil Thomas, researcher Sara Goodacre said:

He suggested that there might be more interesting ‘tweaks’ one could make so that the silk could be ‘decorated’ with different, useful, compounds either permanently or which could be released over time due to a change in the acidity of the environment… It is likely that this paper is just the start of a very exciting range of studies using the new spider silk material.

Source: University of Nottingham

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