AMSilk (Munich/Martinsried, Germany) recently announced that it had achieved large-scale production validation for the manufacture of recombinant spider silk proteins, which it has registered under the name Spidersilk. The technical test campaign demonstrated that the biopolymer now can be economically produced at scales ranging from kilograms to tons, reports the company in a press release. The remarkable properties of spider silk—notably its toughness—are replicated in the biopolymer, opening up numerous opportunities for the fledgling company founded in 2008. We spoke with Mathias Woker, who recently joined the company as Chief Business Officer, about the technology and its applications.
AMSilk develops the production processes in-house and outsources manufacture of the material. “We provide the material in various forms—film, beads, nonwovens, coatings and so forth,” says Woker. Although AMSilk will be involved in developing certain products itself, “we are fundamentally a supplier and licensor,” he adds. “We will not try to be all things to all people.”
Medical applications loom large for this material, notes Woker. He cites the material’s ductility, strength and hydrophilicity as properties that can inspire medical device engineers. “Wound care applications and implants are areas of interest because of the material’s biocompatibility and hypo-allergenic qualities,” says Woker. “Silk beads can also be used as novel drug-delivery systems,” he adds. Research kits for biologists will be available in 2012, and the material’s first commercial application will be in functional cosmetics.
“Spidersilk holds the potential to become the basis for many new medtech products, and it will also lead to crucial improvements in this area,” says Woker.