This is bullet-proof human skin - made from spider silk and goat milk. Yes, really.

Illustration for article titled This is bullet-proof human skin - made from spider silk and goat milk. Yes, really.

Jalila Essaidi is testing the limits of human endurance, and it starts by having to milk spider-goats. Spider goats are otherwise innocent-looking goats that have been genetically engineered to produce milk packed with the protein made in spider's silk. (There is no definitive proof that this also gives them a propensity to skitter up walls or hide out in your sock drawer, but I think it does.)

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Once the goats are milked, Essaidi spins the protein into fiber that is ten times stronger than steel, and mixes it with human skin.

Basically she's created a fiber matrix of the protein, laced liberally with human skin cells. The result is a composite of human skin that can actually stop bullets, as you can see in this picture below.

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Illustration for article titled This is bullet-proof human skin - made from spider silk and goat milk. Yes, really.

The project is called '2.6g 329m/s' after the weight and the velocity of a .22 calibre long rifle bullet. The ultimate goal of the project is to create bullet proof humans by replacing the keratin in our skin with spider's silk, making it much tougher. The current project, though, is a more modest endeavor. The outer and the inner layer of skin will grow around a matrix of spider's silk, making an overall composition that is bullet proof.

You can see the whole project (with narration in Dutch) in this video.

Via Jalila Essaidi and Naturalis.

Top Image Credit: Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be

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DISCUSSION

GregEganist
GregEganist

You know, this isn't what I want from genetic engineering. I don't care about becoming slightly more bullet-resistant, especially if it means that no one of the opposite sex would ever want to touch me.

No, what I really want are better teeth. Human teeth are ridiculous. They come in wrong, they wear out quickly, they get infected, and they're are way too pain sensitive. A vast profession exists that does nothing but care for teeth.

So I say let's have a new set every ten years. Let's get rid of the wisdom teeth altogether - there's no room in the jaw for them. 28 was good enough for Aristotle's women and it's good enough for me. Let's put in thicker enamel. Move the nerves further down the root.

Invent bullet-resistant skin and you'll be laughed at. Invent better teeth and you'll be hailed as a savior of humanity.