We've already learned recently that spider silk could help your computers stay cool — but now it looks like it could help you heal from broken bones as well.
Newly published research explores the idea of using silk proteins as a nanoscaffold, to help bones knit and repair. They created a biodegradable silk scaffold that was strong and flexible enough to hold bone pieces in place, while they reform and grow.
The team extracted silk protein microfibers by using alkaline hydrolysis to rapidly break down the raw stuff into microfibers ranging from 10 to 20 um in just minutes. These were used to reinforce a silk protein scaffold and create a a fully biodegradable composite with high-compressive strength and improved cell growth. This new biomaterial mimics the bone's own stiffness and roughness well enough that cells differentiated better in its presence.
These silken scaffolds not only could help heal broken bones and aid regeneration, but the researchers also think it could be used to engineer new bones. Which means it's only a matter of time before we all have Wolverine claws.