Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cross a Spider with a Goat ... to Get Silk as Strong as Steel; US Aims to Weave Fibre into Body Armour

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cross a Spider with a Goat ... to Get Silk as Strong as Steel; US Aims to Weave Fibre into Body Armour

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES LANGTON

SCIENTISTS have made an astonishing breakthrough by successfully crossing a spider with a goat to produce silk that is tougher than steel.

The new fibre is designed to create a bullet-proof vest for the US Army that can stop a shot from any gun.

The spider-goat is believed to be the first commercially viable animal created from the DNA of two species - and could be worth millions for the Canadian company behind the research.

It also marks a significant shift in the debate about genetic experiments.

Dolly the sheep was created by British scientists researching human health.

Now similar technology is being used to create tools for the military.

Outward ly, the animals resemble ordinary goats. But at a transgenic farm run by Nexia Biotechnologies in rural Quebec they are being bred with a single gene from a golden orb-weaving spider.

Milk from the female goats contains silk that is five times the strength of steel. It is being used by the Pentagon to develop body armour that would be four times stronger than Kevlar but weigh less than a cotton shirt.

Other commercial possibilities include using it to make biodegradable fishing lines and surgical stitches.

The product - dubbed BioSteel by Nexia - could also grab a huge slice of the [pound]1 billion market in industrial fibres. It could be woven to produce couture

clothing that would feel almost weightless, scientists claim.

Hybrid spider-goats are bred using test-tube techniques. A single gene from the common orb-weaver or garden spider is inserted into fertilised goat eggs.

Each baby goat is only 1/70,000th spider but when fully grown the females are able to produce a milk that contains a protein identical to spider silk.

In experiments, Nexi a researchers have been able to produce 91 metres of BioSteel an hour.

Scientist have long known that spider silk is one of the strongest substances in the world but have been unable to reproduce it artificially. …

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