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Vegan Spider Silk

June 17, 2021

Vegan Spider Silk

How clever are those spiders!

Not another green-wash, this could be the real deal. A new material dubbed vegan spider silk, has been created by scientists at the University of Cambridge. It may finally be the replacement we’ve been waiting for to deal with single use plastic.

Dr Thomas Knowles’ expertise in protein folding is used in studying the impact of misshapen proteins on human health. But it also reveals what it is about spider silk that gives it such strength. The team of academics were able to apply this knowledge to a soy protein.

Soy is a widely available crop but its proteins are very different to those of spider silk. Dr Knowles and his team managed to strip the soy protein down and reform it to match the shape of spider silk. Because all proteins are made of polypeptide chains, (I know this because of our own cashmere protein) they can, under the right conditions reassemble the plant proteins to match spider silk.

“In a way we’ve come up with a vegan spider silk, creating the same material without the spider”. Said study co-author Dr Garcia. This plastic substitute can be left on a domestic compost heap without any special treatment to recycle it.

 Michael Van Clarke

 

Read - Fed up with being Greenwashed?





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