Take a minute, close your eyes, and think back to when you were in the 7th grade. At some point your geography or history teacher was probably talking to you about Marco Polo and something called the Silk Road. The Silk Road, actually a network of roads and sea routes connecting China to the Mediterranean, and ultimately to Europe, was a conduit for trade until the 15th century. Gold and silver were carried eastward to China and in return traders going back west carried something that was, pound for pound, far more valuable than even gold. They carried what was for thousands of years one of China’s major exports, natural silk, the product of a lowly caterpillar.
The reason for silk’s hold on people is, of course, its unique properties. A smooth and luxurious fiber, it can be dyed and printed in striking bright colors. It also ranks high in strength for natural fibers. Of course the silkworm isn’t the only thing that produces silk. It has been said spiders were producing silk long before silkworms even existed. In fact, spider silk has certain properties superior even to silkworm silk, such as tensile strength and the unparalleled capacity to absorb energy and dissipate it in a very controlled manner. So, why was spider silk not produced and traded?
To produce silk in volume, you need a concentrated production environment. Imagine thousands of silk worms living and working next to each other. As it turns out, spiders don’t . . . well let’s just say they don’t play well together. In fact, they tend to eat each other, which of course is not good for production. So, although people have long wanted to produce spider silk, there was no effective way to do it. What they needed was some way of combining the unique qualities of spider silk and the production capabilities of the silkworm.
Well now, for the first time in history, genetic engineering is giving us the possibility of doing just that. Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc. (OTCBB: KBLB) is developing a way of actually inserting spider silk DNA directly into silkworms, allowing the silkworms to produce the proteins for spider silk. The result, it is hoped, will be the mass production of spider silk, including its tremendous tensile strength. Stronger than steel by weight, spider silk could conceivably jump to dominance in the high performance fiber market, a market worth billions, with current leaders including:
Dupont (NYSE: DD)
Honeywell (NYSE: HON)
Cytec Industries (NYSE: CYT)
Hexcel Corp. (NYSE: HXL
If Kraig Biocraft is successful, it will represent a new way of getting silk; perhaps the biggest breakthrough in silk production in a thousand years. With the company’s leading team of scientific experts and breakthroughs taking place in the lab, the world is closer than ever to experiencing the many benefits offered by this exciting technology.
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