Spi­ders in nerve re­pair tests

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

SPI­DERS’ silk is be­ing tested as a way to re­pair dam­aged nerves.

Large nerve in­juries of more than 5cm are hard to knit to­gether with cur­rent tech­niques – but spi­der’s silk is show­ing prom­ise.

The web of the golden orb spi­der, from Tan­za­nia, is more tear- re­sis­tant than ny­lon, more elas­tic than steel and has an­tibac­te­rial prop­er­ties.

The idea is to use it as a trel­lis: the nerve fi­bres stick to the spi­ders’ silk and grow along it.

The web also en­cour­ages the growth of new cells.

So far, tests at the Med­i­cal Uni­ver­sity of Hanover, in Ger­many, have been car­ried out on an­i­mals, with promis­ing re­sults. Work is un­der way to reg­is­ter the silk as a med­i­cal de­vice so it can be tested on hu­mans.

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