Real-Life Spidermen

Matthew Gryczan | Dec. 9, 2012 | Crain's Detroit Business

Kim Kraig Thompson (left) and Mac Fraser with a genetically-modified silkworm / Erik HollidayKim Kraig Thompson (left) and Malcolm "Mac" Fraser with a genetically-modified silkworm.

To his proponents, Kim Kraig Thompson is a Spider-Man who has spent the past 10 years trying to coax threads of spider silk from silkworms for rip-resistant apparel, surgical bandages that promote healing and lightweight body armor.

Thompson and Malcolm Fraser Jr., a professor of biology at the University of Notre Dame and an expert in transgenic engineering, think that at this point, they have the only commercially feasible method of producing silk with synthetic spider genes. Fraser said Kraig Biocraft has succeeded in producing a silk with 50 percent more tensile strength than normal silk.

From a small laboratory that opened this year in Innovation Park in South Bend, Ind., Thompson grows transgenic silkworms that will produce millions of eggs for delivery to sericulture facilities -- silk farms -- that probably will be in developing countries.

Read more at Crain's Detroit Business

 by Daily Domer Staff

Posted In: Features