Sign up for exclusive discounts, product launches, and new stories on The Lab.
Silk is stronger than steel and nearly as tough as Kevlar. Silk is also biocompatible, (similar in structure to collagen and elastin) which allows the body to accept the many benefits of silk.
Eighteen B harnesses the power of silk to create better skincare. We aren’t the only ones using silk to build better products – there’s a lot happening in the world of silk. We’ve assembled a list of five silk innovations we’re following.
We say it all the time: silk is spectacular. It’s soft, it’s lustrous, and it’s one of the strongest materials in the natural world. Silk is stronger than steel and nearly as tough as Kevlar, and it’s biocompatible. Silk is similar in structure to collagen and elastin, which allows the body to accept the many benefits of silk.
Silk has been used in textiles for millennia, but scientists are now employing silk in incredible ways. Our Chief Science Officer, Lindsay Wray, PhD, spent years studying silk’s application in regenerative medicine. She clued us in on some of the exciting innovations happening in the world of silk.
1. Wound Healing
Thanks to its strength and biocompatibility, silk is being used and researched for its applications in wound healing. In a recent study, scientists found that wound dressings made with silk protein helped the healing process. When compared with commercially sold wound dressings, silk dressings promoted healing times and reduced scar formation.
2. Bone Repair
Silk is being harnessed to heal internally, too. Doctors typically use metal to stabilize a broken or fractured bone, but these inflexible metals can cause additional harm. In a 2018 study, scientists found that silk – strong but far stretchier than metal – can be part of a better solution. Mei Wei, a materials scientist, combined silk proteins with plastic and calcium to create an implant that’s stronger than bone. In addition to stabilizing the bone, silk and the other materials naturally degrade in the body so there’s no need for a second surgery to remove the device.
3. Vaccine Delivery
Vaxess Technologies, a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, MA, has developed a patch that uses silk microneedles to administer vaccines at a precise rate. The MIMIX patch mimics the longer exposure period that occurs with a natural infection. For that reason, the immune response to the vaccines is slower and more enduring. In studies of influenza vaccines, MIMIX was shown to cause immune responses to strains of influenza that were not included in the vaccine. According to Vaxess, that result has never been seen with injectable influenza vaccines.
4. Eye Health
Scientists at SilkTech Biopharmaceuticals are currently developing eye drops made with silk proteins to treat the symptoms of Dry Eye Disease (DED). The Silk-Derived Protein-4 (SDP-4) drops were engineered to keep irritants that cause DED at bay and stabilize the tear film to make eyes feel more comfortable. A SilkTech study comparing SDP-4 to normal saline eye drops showed promising results. Research is ongoing.
5. Stabilizing Blood Samples
In 2016, researchers at Tufts University created a technique that stabilizes blood samples (without refrigeration) by coating them in dried silk protein. This technique has many practical applications in both research and medical health. Blood is often collected outside of a lab, but if these samples are not kept at specific temperatures, the accuracy of the analysis is put at risk. This new technique has exciting potential to help underserved populations and facilitate large-scale trials.
Bonus: Skin Barrier Support
We couldn’t help ourselves! We’re proud of the silk innovations our team has made in silk’s application in skincare. Natural silk proteins are often used in hair and skincare products, but these proteins are hydrolyzed, or cut into small pieces, compromising their molecular structure. Our b-silk™ protein is created through a patented fermentation process that allows the molecules to remain intact. The unique molecular structure of b-silk™ protein allows it to form a breathable barrier that provides all-day hydration. By replenishing skin’s vital barrier function, b-silk™ protein leaves skin soft, smooth, and radiant. See? We told you silk was exciting.
Do you have questions? Comments? Topics you want us to cover? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.