Spider Silk Utilized for Gene Therapy
An article on Science Daily discusses a study conducted by David Kaplan and other scientists. It explains that the idea of gene therapy has been studied for quite some time (over 1,500 trials since 1989). Although the idea of gene therapy is not new safety is the main concern. The idea of utilizing genetically altered viruses to treat patients has been studied; however, it has not been approved by the FDA. Kaplan and other scientists proposed the idea to utilize silk proteins from spiders to transport genes. The silk proteins were modified to attach to unhealthy cells and glow(same gene as fireflies have), in order to “pinpoint” where the gene is. An experiment involving modified silk protein took place with mice who had human breast cancer cells. According to Science Direct as well as News-Medical.net it appeared the spider silk injected its DNA into the cancerous cells and did not harm the mice at all. News-Medical states, “genetically-engineered spider-silk proteins represent a versatile, very highly tailorable and useful new platform polymer for non viral gene delivery”. The idea of treating cancer with silk extracted from spiders is mind blowing. The discoveries made by scientists in gene therapy is very impressive. Perhaps with more clinical studies Kaplan and other scientists will be able to convince the FDA that there are safe and effective.