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Sigma-Aldrich Corp. (SIAL) Division and Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc. (KBLB) to Collaborate for the Production of Spider Silk

Sigma Life Science, the innovative biological products and services research business of Sigma-Aldrich, announced this morning that it has signed an agreement with Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc. to develop genetically modified silkworms for the production of spider silk, using its proprietary CompoZr Zinc Finger Nuclease (ZFN) technology. Transferring silk genes from the spider to the silkworm is anticipated to allow the mass production of stronger silk with enhanced elasticity. Potential applications include sutures, tendon and ligament repair, bulletproof vests, and automobile airbags.

Since the first published sequence of a spider silk gene over twenty years ago, much research has focused on the production of commercially viable spider silk with high tensile strength and elasticity. Last year Kraig Biocraft made an important advance by producing hybrid silkworms with randomly inserted spider silk genes, yielding hybrid spider¬≠silkworm silk with greater strength and durability than native silkworm silk. The precise gene targeting and high efficiency of Sigma’s ZFN technology enables Kraig Biocraft to build on its success by concomitantly targeting the insertion of spider silk genes into the silkworm genome while removing endogenous silkworm silk genes. The resulting transgenic silkworm is believed to be capable of spinning pure spider silk at commercially viable production levels.

“ZFN technology has been revolutionary in genome engineering for various applications, including animal models of disease, engineering of biopharmaceutical production systems, academic research and therapeutics,” stated Dr. Joseph Bedell, Director of Sigma Life Science’s Commercial Animal Technologies Group. “Spider silk production is just the first example of a potential commercial animal application for this exciting technology, perfectly positioning Sigma Life Science as a leading provider of innovative technologies that are changing the face of science and improving the quality of life.”

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 Uncategorized
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