Goats with spider gene produce webs

From: \[ Robert-Coyote \] (coyyote@hotmail.com)
Date: Fri May 19 2000 - 12:06:00 MDT

Goats with spider gene produce webs
Thursday, 18 May 2000 15:31 (ET)

Goats with spider gene produce webs

MILWAUKEE, May 18 (UPI) - Canadian scientists have implanted spider genes
in a herd of goats, resulting in the production of silky strands in goat
milk that can be used for sutures and other applications.

The technique was perfected by Jeffrey Turner, a geneticist and president
of Nexia Biotechnologies of Quebec.

"We have combined the old and the new," Turner told UPI in a recent
interview. "The old is represented by the goats and their milk, which is
used to make cheese. The new is genetic engineering."

In addition to sutures for eye surgery, the strands - which are harvested
from the goat's milk -- can be used to reconstruct tendons or ligaments and
to repair bones, Turner said, adding that companies like DuPont and 3M have
been trying unsuccessfully to duplicate spider web silk in their
laboratories for years.

Turner said he has been contacted by numerous pharmaceutical firms seeking
to acquire the technique but he said he won't sell.

"We may take on a partner for the marketing end," he said, "but we will
keep the ownership here in Quebec."

One major reason for that decision is the fact that Quebec's Caisse de
depot et placement, which is responsible for investing Quebec pension funds,
has invested several million dollars in the venture. Turner, a native of
Ontario, said he decided to base his venture in Quebec because of the
province's favorable economic climate.

Turner estimates the technology has a potential market of $2 billion. He
expects the silk to go on the medical market within a year under the brand
name BioSteelJ.

Additionally, he said, the substance likely has industrial applications,
possibly replacing such things as Kevlar. It also could be used to cover
domed stadiums and in the aerospace and communications industries.

Both the U.S. and Canadian military have expressed interest in using it
for making anti-ballistic defense systems, he said.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International.
All rights reserved.

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