Spiders in nerve repair tests
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.