Spider silk, the future in implants of tissues and organs

Since ancient times, the great resistance of the “spider silk”, also called viscid thread, has been valued, so one of the main challenges is to produce it at industrial levels so that it can be used as raw material in the field of regenerative medicine . Other outstanding qualities that can turn this biomaterial into the future of tissue and organ implants are also noteworthy as it helps to grow and fix implanted cells. Currently in biomedicine artificial plastics are used because obtaining the proteins of the silk is expensive, although it is the best natural fiber and far surpasses the performance of other materials.

However, being able to reconstruct or regenerate parts of the human body with a spider silk structure remains a distant reality. Gustavo Guinea, professor of materials science at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, has spent fifteen years experimenting with his team at the Center for Biomedical Technology with one of seven types of silk that spiders produce called, the “safety thread” A wonderful mechanical properties, since it is the thread they use to hang themselves on.

The proteins of the silk have a resistance comparable to one of steel and they are totally biocompatible with the human body; that is to say, they do not produce any rejection. They are therefore well suited for constructing scaffolds so that they serve as a support for implanted cells to repair an organ or tissue. When an organ is damaged, cells from another part of the body can be implanted to duplicate, differentiate and recover. The support created by the silk of the spider helps them to be fixed and it avoids that they are dispersed by the organism. It would also serve to fix cells initially cultured ‘in vitro’ (in the laboratory) and then carried to the body of a patient.

The Cells that produce the layer (myelin sheath) that surrounds the axons (wire´s that communicate neurons) in the brain have great affinity for the proteins of the silk, therefore, these proteins can help the regeneration of myelin of the axons. The signal between neurons is lost when de myelin layer degenerates, which causes Alzheimer´s disease among others diseases.