It might look like a poorly drawn picture of an alien, but this is actually one of the most advanced types of skin ever made - that can even stop bullets. Researchers genetically engineered goats to produce milk which is packed with the same protein as silk spiders. Once this is milked out it can be spun out and weaved into a material that is ten times stronger than steel. The fabric can then be blended with human skin to make what the scientists hope will be tough enough to stop even a bullet.
Dutch researcher Jalila Essaidi said the 'spidersilk' project was called '2.6g 329m/s' after the weight and the velocity of a .22 calibre long rifle bullet. Working with the Forensic Genomics Consortium in the Netherlands, she said the goal was to replace the keratin in our skin with the spiders silk. The first stage involves growing a layer of real skin around a sample of the bulletproof skin, which takes about five weeks.
A video posted by the researchers on YouTube shows a bullet then being fired into the mixture of the two. Essaidi said that the project was making science fiction a reality, even if the tests results were not yet perfect. She said that silk has a long history of using battle in combat and that Genghis Khan once issued all his horsemen with silk vests as an arrow hitting silk does not break, meaning you can tease it out. Imagine a spidersilk vest, capable of catching bullets, the modern day equivalent of Genghis Khans arrows, she said. Now, lets take this one step further, why bother with a vest: imagine replacing keratin, the protein responsible for the toughness of the human skin, with this spidersilk protein. This is possible by adding the silk producing genes of a spider to the gnome of a human: creating a bulletproof human. Science-fiction? Maybe, but we can get a feeling of what this transhumanistic idea would be like by letting a bulletproof matrix of spidersilk merge with an in vitro human skin.
Bullet proof vests have been around for decades but skin that can stop them has only been the preserve of science fiction. The most famous example is Superman, or the Man of Steel - bullets simply ricochet off of him. (8.16.2011, Daniel Bates) www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2026645/Bulletproof-human-skin-spider-silk-goat-milk-developed-scientists.html
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