Nominated by: BIO Deutschland
Organisation in nomination: AMSilk
Spider silk has long been hailed for its properties, the ultimate biomaterial, however production from spiders directly on a scale large enough for industrial use has always been beyond reach. Natural extraction of spider silk (milking) is complex and expensive, compared to the silk produced by silk worms.
In 2007, Professor Thomas Scheibel, from Technische Universität München filed a patent for the world’s first biotech method of producing spider silk, using genetically modified E.coli, with the bacteria producing a synthetic spider silk that was durable, flexible and soft. The fibres produced were 100% recyclable and degradable and could be used for versatile applications.
This directly led to the creation of AMSilk, the first and only company to produce spider silk on a large scale.
The unique properties of spider silk hold promise across multiple applications, particularly in healthcare, including textiles, gels and 3D printing. It’s non-immunogenic, non-inflammatory and non-toxic properties make it suitable. It is also being tested within sectors such as automotive, aerospace and military.
In 2019, AMSilk launched the world’s first textile product based on spider silk fibers in partnership with Omega. In 2020 the AMSilk silk coating used in Polytech silicone breast implants was successfully tested in an international clinical study of silk-coated medical implants.