Brussels, 11 Feb 2003
Participants in an EU funded project believe that it may be possible to implant artificial tendons made from spider webs into injured humans within five years.
'One of the major advantages to this method is that the human body shows no adverse reactions to the implanted spider proteins,' project coordinator Wilhelm Engström has said.
The SPIDERMAN project, funded under the 'Growth' section of the Fifth Framework Programme is developing a completely new concept of biomaterials for medical use. The consortium, involving 11 partners from five EU Member States, will first develop techniques for biosynthesis of large quantities of spider silk protein. This will be modified and refined before being used as a raw material for the production of orthopaedic devices. The genes for silk protein will then be cloned.
The final product will be used to replace such devices as external fixators and casts as well as internal fixators, including pins, screws and plates. In a second phase, the proteins could be used as bone grafts, ligaments and tendons.