Spidery Surgery

Shooting webs! Climbing walls! What else can Spiderman do?

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

Broken bones are the worst! Fortunately, bone tissue can regrow. Installing metal plates can help support bone growth. But metal can be irritating – isn’t there a better way?

Maybe! University of Connecticut’s Mei Wei and Dianyun Zhang wanted to find a better bone-builder. Something lightweight, tough, and compatible with the human body. Their inspiration? Spider silk!

Spider silk is known to be lightweight, but even stronger than steel. After testing, the researchers found that it could break down at the rate of natural bones healing back! So no surgery is needed during the healing process!

The researchers then combined the flexible silk with a stiff plastic made from cornstarch and sugar. The result? One of the strongest and most flexible biodegradable materials to date! This means the new material is compatible and won’t irritate the body!

Bonus — these ingredients are abundant in nature. Natural and cost effective!

I can testify to that – there are PLENTY of spiders at my house! Euhh!