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Spider secrets: Scientists have discovered how webs are made

The spider's web is stronger than steel and flexible like rubber * The discovery will allow the development of body-fitting protective vests

Alex Doron

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Scientists in the United States have cracked one of nature's great secrets: how spiders and silkworms spin their webs, which are considered the strongest and most efficient fibers.

Humans have been using silkworms for over 2,000 years, without understanding how the silk fibers themselves are made. The web of the spider's web is known to be stronger than steel and flexible like rubber, in addition to its great advantage of its light weight.

A team from Taft University in Boston, headed by bioengineering expert Prof. David Kaplan, announced yesterday that they discovered how the worms and spiders control the glands that produce the proteins, for spinning the webs. A report on the research is published this morning in the science weekly Nature.

The production of the spider's web has until now been considered an even more unknown puzzle, and cracking it is considered a particularly significant achievement. Understanding the process will serve as a basis for a new generation of lightweight, strong and very rigid materials and products, such as personal protective vests or clothing for medical teams in hospitals. Following the discovery, they began raising a herd of goats in the United States that underwent endogenetic changes, so that their bodies produce milk that contains the proteins needed to create the spider's webs or the fibers of the silkworms.

A spider is able to weave in one morning a web whose fibers are 30 meters long. Scientists observed a spider that "in one pull" and without stopping, weaves a web that is 300 meters long.
For information in Nature

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