Notre Dame lab's new spider silk innovation could save lives

A revolutionary breakthrough is being woven at Notre Dame. A campus lab is combining the DNA of spiders and silk worms to produce a super strong fabric. 

Spider silk is regarded as the strongest fiber in the world. But it's hard to get. Spiders just can't make enough of it. But a professor at Notre Dame has found the fix.

Dr. Malcolm Frasier and Kraig Labs are injecting spider DNA into silk worms, allowing them to produce high volumes of spider silk. It's durable and flexible. He harvests it right on campus. And he says the potential is endless. It can be used in the medical field for bandages, or the athletics market with uniforms and gear. It can even be used for clothing.  

"Silk textiles, if they are washed, tend to get brittle,” said Dr. Malcolm Frasier of Notre Dame and Kraig labs. “Hopefully we are able to extend the life of silk. People make rugs out of silk so if there is stronger silk the rugs will last longer."

This new spider silk could also save lives.

Frasier and Kraig Labs are currently working out a contract with the US defense department. The idea is to use this silk for vests and body armor for our soldiers in the military. It's more durable and flexible,  making it better for battle.

"Right now body armor tends to be heavy,” said Frasier. “And it doesn't breathe very well. So right now what we want to do is end up with a fiber. Maybe this fiber in conjunction with other fibers, that is easily as strong and more comfortable to wear."

Negotiations are ongoing. But Kraig Labs is hoping to get this technology utilized soon.

Share this article: