Engineering Silk to Disinfect Wounds, Heal Bones

By: | May 25th, 2018

Scientists are exploring the various medical uses of silk. Silk spun by spiders and silkworms is an extremely strong and flexible material and is safe to use inside the human body. For these reasons, researchers are engineering silk so it might one day heal our wounds, hold up our bones, and maybe even replace tendons.

Recently, researchers from Purdue University engineered a silk to heal our wounds faster

Scientists bio-engineered silkworms to spin a form of silk that can kill pathogens when activated by a light. To do this, researchers injected into the DNA of silkworms a natural protein that generates a pathogen-killing chemical reaction.  These bio-engineered silkworms then produced a red, glowing silk.

When scientists put E. coli bacteria on the red silk and shined a green light on it for an hour, the survival rate of the bacteria dropped by 45 percent.

Scientists from the University of Connecticut are going to use silk threads to secure our broken bones

Nowadays, doctors implant metals to stabilize fractured or broken bones. After bones are healed, doctors have to remove the metal with another surgery. Scientists want to eliminate the need for a second surgery by using silk in place of metals. Silk will decompose inside the body after about a year and there won’t be any need of another surgery.

Scientists are also working on engineering silk to replace our tendons.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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