Silky Screws

Is SILK more than just stylish?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Is there anything more luxurious than a silk robe? Because of its smooth feeling, silk has been prized for centuries. And not only for clothing!  Surgeons have used silk to stitch wounds shut for millennia!  Are there yet more silky surprises?

David Kaplan of Tufts University and colleagues wondered…could silk be used to make medical implants?!

So Kaplan’s team developed a new method to process natural silk. They transformed silkworm cocoons into an ultrafine silk powder. They packed a mold with the powder and pressed it while heating it up. After cooling down, the implant was ready! They tested the silk implant in rats. 

Results? These implants are as STRONG as human bones! What’s more, they are biocompatible. And after healing the bone, the implant slowly dissolves within the body. 

Researchers believe their new process could make medical implants, such as bone screws and ear implants, lighter and easier to produce! And that makes them cheaper too!

It worked! Smooth as silk.