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Spider Silk Roundup

March 25, 2011

Scientists unravel the secrets of spider silk.

Transcript

Secrets of spider silk. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Spider silk is stronger than steel, but lighter than cotton. One reason is that each strand consists of soft stretchy material and hard, crystalline material. In Biophysical Journal, researchers describe their studies into the structure of spider silk—precisely how these two building blocks combine to provide optimal performance. The work could lead to synthetic spider silk that outperforms the real thing.

In other news, doctors who run blood tests typically look at about a dozen compounds to diagnose patients. In the journal PLOS ONE, scientists describe an exhaustive analysis of blood that yielded over 4000 blood chemicals and levels of those chemicals found in healthy people. The database could lead to new ways to monitor patients’ health and detect illnesses earlier. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.