Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc., an emerging biotech company with an already strong intellectual property portfolio relating to the genetic modification of silkworms to produce spider silk, continues to strengthen its position as it develops faster and more efficient research methodologies.
The company describes its technology as a unique protein expression system that is potentially highly scalable and cost effective in producing a variety of proteins that can be marketed to the pharmaceutical and fibers markets, although spider silk remains the principal goal of the company. Kraig Biocraft has successfully inserted into silkworms the DNA packets containing the unique gene sequence used by spiders to produce silk, but work remains to be done for the actual production of spider silk.
Spider silk has elasticity and strength properties unmatched by any man-made fiber, including DuPontâ€™s Kevlar, the most successful synthetic technical fiber ever produced, which pales in comparison to spider silk in the ability to absorb energy prior to fiber breakage. An additional advantage of spider silk is that it is derived from natural sources and is biodegradable, unlike competitive products which are manufactured using toxic and polluting chemicals. The only thing required by genetically modified silkworms is oxygen and Mulberry leaves.
And all of these spider silk qualities come in a package that is unbelievably lightweight. A strand of spider silk stretching all the way around the globe would amount to no more than a pound or two. This strand would be five times the strength of steel of the same diameter.
With these unparalleled attributes, the market possibilities for spider silk are almost countless, with a dollar value in the billions. It is estimated that DuPont pulls in well over $5 billion annually in sales of Kevlar, and the overall high performance technical fibers market is currently around $90 billion annually.
So itâ€™s fairly conservative to predict that, should Kraig Biocraft be able to develop a commercially viable transgenic species capable of producing spider silk proteins, the discovery would immediately be worth several hundred million dollars to one of the multinational corporations involved in the technical textiles industry.
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