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Muscles harder than Kevlar: they create ultra-resistant and biocompatible muscle fiber from microbes

When we talk about ultra-resistant materials, the usual thing is to do it on synthetic and artificial components. But the fiber that concerns us today is biocompatible, which means that it will not cause problems in contact with the body.

Kevlar, a thin filament almost like a spider’s web but so resistant that it ended up being used to make bulletproof vests, is a great reference in the field of materials, mainly for its resistance and lightness. Now scientists from the St. Louis University School of Engineering in Washington have managed to produce muscle fiber as strong as kevlar.

No animals have been harmed in the process

In a recent paper published in the journal Nature, these researchers have used a new synthetic chemistry approach to polymerize proteins within specifically engineered microbes. That is, they have managed to make these microbes produce titin, one of the most important muscle proteins due to its large size.

“Its production can be cheap and scalable. It can allow many applications that people had previously thought of, but with natural muscle fibers ”Explains Fuzhong Zhang, a professor at the Department of Energy, Environmental Engineering and Chemistry.

The creation of biocompatible materials is a branch that is attracting many attention and this latest work is an interesting proposal to produce muscle fibers without the need to obtain them from any animal.


How have they also made this muscle tissue so hard? The answer is found in the original design. Initially, bacteria were designed together in smaller segments, within a high molecular weight molecule, with approximately 50 times the size of an average bacteria. By starting from a bacteria with a higher density, the result after producing the proteins was a more resistant fiber.

In the case of this research they produced a fiber with a diameter of around ten microns, roughly one-tenth the thickness of human hair, through a wet spinning process.

Robots may not look like robots in the future thanks to low-cost artificial muscles

It is easy to imagine through this work a possible muscle fiber armor, which we remember has a greater resistance than Kevlar. But the potential applications revolve best in the field of biomedicine. These fibers, by containing the same proteins as our muscles, would be biocompatible and could help produce materials for sutures or tissue engineering, with the advantage of being integrated into the organic material and being very resistant.

Vía | SciTechDaily