Web Exclusive | January 2017
Antibiotic spider silk developed
An interdisciplinary work has resulted in functionalized artificial spider silk using E.coli bacteria.
Scientists at the United Kingdom-based Nottingham University have utilised a concept called “click chemistry,” to synthesise antibiotic spider silk. Professor Neil Thomas of the School of Chemistry collaborated with life scientist Dr. Sara Goodacre and her team in the research. Recombinant silk fibers functionalised with levofloxacin was able to retain its antibacterial activity by slow release for up to five days after functionalisation.
According to Professor Thomas, the biocompatible fibers can find applications in tissue engineering and biomedicine. The structure serves as scaffolds for cell growth and provides antimicrobial properties due to the presence of antibacterial agents, by slow release mechanism.
A chance meeting between chemist and scientists from SpiderLab resulted in antibiotic recombinant silk fibers, using “click reaction” technique. The work involved the synthesis of silk protein in a bacterium, where an amino acid not found in protein was added. This amino acid has an azide group, which helps with the click reaction resulting in the functionalized artificial silk.
By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA