[Virtual NY] Goats with spider gene produce webs

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From: joelinda1@home.com
Date: Sat May 20 2000 - 21:54:47 PDT

I'm interested in genomics as an investment, but this is just a
little too bizarre (Adam thought it was deserving of a post here!)



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.

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