Spun by spiders and silkworms, silk has mystified human engineers who have yet to figure out how to artificially recreate this tough, fine fiber.
Spun by spiders and silkworms, silk has mystified human engineers who have yet to figure out how to artificially recreate this tough, fine fiber. But by combining silk, which is safe for use in the human body, with synthetic compounds, one research team is getting closer to developing new implantable composite materials with the best properties of both. Potential applications, which are still years away, could include structures that hold bone in place after surgery or replacements for the cartilage cushions in the knee.
The researchers will present their results today at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting & Expo. ACS is holding the meeting through Thursday. It features more than 6,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
“Silk has great potential for use in biomedical applications,” says Juan Guan, Ph.D., the project’s principal investigator. “Silk is versatile, and the human body tolerates it quite well, and can even degrade and absorb it.”
Silk has a long history in medicine. Records of ancient doctors stitching up patients with fibers spun by silkworms date back nearly 2,000 years. And today, surgeons finish certain surgeries, such as those on the eye, with silk sutures.
Read more at American Chemical Society
Image: Combining silk fabric with epoxy creates laminates that can be formed into shapes, like the structure above, for medical uses. Credit: Jiao Wen & Juan Guan