Scientists are now discussing the possibility of adding silk-producing spider genes into the human genome to produce ‘bulletproof’ skin. The news comes after testing was done on bioengineered human skin that was grown in a laboratory and mixed with ‘milk’ created from a genetically engineered ‘spider goat‘. This is a goat that has been genetically tweaked to produce the same protein found in spider silk. Spider goats are transgenic creations that have two key spider genes embedded into their genetic code that enable them to weave extremely strong silk.
Spider silk is much stronger than Kevlar (the material used in traditional bulletproof vests), and scientists are now saying that it could actually be used to create an internal bulletproof skin vest. The silk is actually 5 times stronger than steel, and is one of the strongest fibers known to man. While the fibers involved with the creation of the bulletproof skin are not as strong, they are still extremely powerful. It sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, but Dutch scientist Jalila Essaidi says it will soon be a reality. While she performed tests involving the silk-embedded bulletproof skin vest created in the lab, she discussed the very real possibility of actually replacing human skin proteins with that of a spider. She said:
“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.”
The lab-grown skin fused with the ‘silk’ is currently capable of withstanding a direct impact from a bullet fired below full speed. Researchers say that the ‘transhumanistic’ idea of the silk vest could make science fiction a reality.