Kraig Biocraft Laboratories

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Kraig Biocraft Laboratories
Industry Textiles
Founded 2006
Key people Kim Thompson, Founder,CEO
Products Artificial spider silk
Website www.kraiglabs.com

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc. was founded by Kim Thompson in April 2006 to develop and commercialize spider silks and other high performance polymers using spider silk gene sequences discovered and invented at the University of Wyoming by Dr. Randy Lewis, in combination with genetic engineering strategies developed by Dr. Malcolm Fraser (University of Notre Dame) and Donald Jarvis (University of Wyoming).[1]

The Science[edit]

The method used to genetically modify the silkworm uses the PiggyBac Transposon vector discovered and developed by Dr. Fraser at the University of Notre Dame. Specific sequences of spider silk DNA are inserted into the genetic makeup of the silkworm to create a strain of the insect that now produces the spider protein. They are able to customize the sequences that are inserted into the silkworm, thus giving the ability to customize the resulting silkworm's thread strength and flexibility. To ensure the silkworm has been genetically modified, a gene was attached that gave the transgenic silkworms red glowing eyes. The thread produced by the transgenic silkworms is close to the strength and flexibility of the native spider. Strength relative to native spider silk is 80%.[2] Kraig Biocraft Laboratories is not the first to create transgenic silkworms incorporating spider silk proteins. Where Kraig Labs has succeeded is that the spider silk proteins are integrated structurally into the transgenic silkworm fiber.[3]

Silkworms are not the only species to be altered in the attempt to create a new source of spider silk. Another firm, Nexia Biotech, created Transgenic goats. These goats produced spider silk proteins in their milk. The finished fiber, a product of wet spinning, was much thicker than native spider silk and proved not to be commercially viable due to cost.[4]

Artificial Spider Silk Applications[edit]

Kraig Labs has successfully created at least 20 transgenic silkworm variants so far, each expressing different levels of spider silk proteins. Silk with strength equaling native spider silk has applications such as: car airbags, bulletproof vests, seat belts, parachutes, nets, and sporting goods.[5] If the future transgenic silkworms are able to exceed the strength of native spider silk then medical applications could be using the recombinant silk. Potential uses in the medical industry are bandages that have the ability to reduce scarring versus using traditional bandages. The silk could also be used as a scaffolding material for artificial tendon and ligament repair.[6]

Scientists Involved[edit]

Malcolm. J. Fraser, Jr. Ph.D. Randy Lewis, Ph.D. Donald L. Jarvis, Ph.D.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Press release". Kraig Biocraft Laboratories. 
  2. ^ Grossman, Lisa (4 October 2010). "Mutant Worms Produce Piles of Spider Silk". Wired news. 
  3. ^ "Transgenic Worms Make Tough Fibers". MIT Technology Review. 
  4. ^ "Transgenic worms make tough fibers". technology review. 
  5. ^ "UW technologies available for licensing". University of wyoming. 
  6. ^ "Vision". Kraig Biocraft Laboratories. 
  7. ^ "Board of Advisors". Kraig Biocraft Laboratories. 

External links[edit]