Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc., a Michigan based development stage biotechnology company, is using genetic engineering to develop polymers and high performance fibers for commercial textile and specialty fiber applications. In particular, the company is focused on producing spider silk, one of the strongest fibers produced in nature.

Spider silk is made when spiders spin liquid protein into solid fibers. Spiders can produce a variety of silks, depending upon need, with certain kinds being both strong and flexible. Spider silk has an exceptional ability to absorb and dissipate energy, and, pound for pound, is much stronger than steel. Polymers with the properties of spider silk have long been sought, but spiders, being cannibalistic, cannot be raised in concentrated colonies. For this reason, there is currently no way to produce spider silk in commercial quantities.

But Kraig Biocraft may have finally solved the problem. The company has obtained the exclusive right to use the spider silk gene sequence in this particular field of research. Kraig Biocraft is now in the process of using genetic engineering to allow silkworms, which are much more compatible with commercial production, to produce spider silk.

The company has already successfully inserted spider silk DNA packets into silkworms, and has also confirmed that the insertions are successful and that the silkworms are producing proteins based on the insertions, proving that the research team has indeed altered the silkworm DNA.

Kraig Biocraft also recently announced that the research team, headed by Dr. Malcolm J. Fraser, has performed 5,000 genetic transfers in a single week, an unexpected success. Such volume insertion means a steady stream of different spider silk polymers, any of which could be of commercial significance. According to CEO Kim Thompson, “With this number of gene insertions the odds of our developing a viable polymer are increasing exponentially”.

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