Lansing Firm Gets Breakthrough In Spiderweb-Silk Fiber

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Kraig Labs

LANSING — Lansing-based Kraig Biocraft Laboratories Inc. announced Thursday a breakthrough in its commercialization of super-strong fibers based on the chemistry of spider silk.

Kraig says the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has published a peer-reviewed scientific article describing the breakthrough creation of a spider silk fusion fiber, achieved by scientists at the University of Wyoming and the University of Notre Dame, who are working cooperatively with Kraig.

The article is the first peer-reviewed scientific publication describing the creation of transgenic silkworms, which have been specifically designed to spin a spider-silkworm silk fusion fiber.

The article’s abstract states, “these composite fibers were, on average, tougher than the parental silkworm silk fibers and as tough as native dragline spider silk fibers. These results demonstrate that silkworms can be engineered to manufacture composite silk fibers containing stably integrated spider silk protein sequences, which significantly improve the overall mechanical properties of the parental silkworm silk fibers.”

Said Kraig Biocraft founder and CEO Kim K. Thompson: “The fact that a publication as prestigious as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has chosen to publish these results speaks for itself as to the significance of the scientific breakthrough. When I founded Kraig many people in both the business and scientific community said that what we were setting out to do was impossible.  By maintaining a focused vision and by recruiting the very best minds in molecular biology, we have made the impossible a tangible reality. Congratulations to the scientific team as well as to the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wyoming. They deserve the accolades they are receiving with this publication.  Our next steps are to commercialize these developments while accelerating our development of even more advanced products. The commercial license agreement we signed in the fourth quarter of 2011 was an essential element of the former. As we move toward commercialization of these fibers, we are simultaneously moving into an advanced stage in the development of new, second generation spider silk polymers.”

The scientific article is titled, “Silkworms Transformed with Chimeric Silkworm/Spider Silk Genes Spin Composite Silk Fibers with Improved Mechanical Properties.”

Added Malcom J. Fraser Jr., the Rev. Julius A. Nieuwland, CSC, Professor of Biological Sciences at Notre Dame: “The recent publication of the analysis of genetically engineered silkworms to produce chimeric spider silks with properties of increased strength and flexibility in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences represents a significant vindication of our methodology for genetically engineering and producing commercial quantities of novel protein fibers for medical, structural, and textile fabrics. If it were not for Kraig Biocraft Laboratories initiating this project and bringing the technologies together these results may never have materialized.”

Fraser said the work is “the culmination of a research effort begun more than 10 years ago with an internal award from the University of Notre Dame to my lab to develop silkworm transgenics capabilities, a two year NIH grant awarded to Drs. Jarvis, Lewis, and myself, and several years of supplemental funding from Kraig Biocraft Laboratories. The success of this research would have been impossible without the ability to carry out silkworm transgenesis, mastered by Bong-hee Sohn and Young-soo Kim in the Fraser lab at the University of Notre Dame. This manuscript was published after an in depth peer review process, and was deemed by the publishers as a newsworthy article of the issue in which appears, further indicating its relative importance to science and technology.”

More at www.kraiglabs.com.

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