A goat that produces spider's web protein is about to revolutionise the materials industry. Stronger and more flexible than steel, spider silk offers a lightweight alternative to carbon fibre.
Up to now it has been impossible to produce "spider fibre" on a commercial scale. Unlike silk worms, spiders are too anti-social to farm successfully. Now a Canadian company claims to be on the verge of producing unlimited quantities of spider silk - in goat's milk. Using techniques similar to those used to produce Dolly the sheep, scientists at Nexia Biotechnologies in Quebec have bred goats with spider genes.
This "silk milk" will be used to produce a web-like material called Biosteel. Naturally occurring spider silk is widely recognised as the strongest, toughest fibre known to man. Its tensile strength is greater than steel and it is 25 percent lighter than synthetic, petroleum-based polymers. These qualities will allow BioSteel to be used in applications where strength and lightness are essential, such as aircraft, racing vehicles and bullet-proof clothing.
Quelle: BBC-News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/889951.stm 21.8.2000), 1.8.2006