Scientists are creating strange hybrids in order to do medical research (NOTE: You can still get Whitley’s novel "Hybirds" from the Whitley Strieber Collection). If these creatures should escape from the lab, would they be dangerous to us?
These creatures seem benign–like "Freckles," a normal-looking goat that is actually part spider. So why are scientists doing this?
In the Observer, Adam Rutherford quotes geneticist Randy Lewis as saying, "In the medical field, we already know that we can produce spider silk that’s good enough to be used in ligament repair. We already know we can make it strong enough as an elastic. We’ve done some studies that show that you can put it in the body and you don’t get inflammation and get ill. We hope within a couple of years that we’re going to be testing to see exactly the best designs and the best materials we can make from it."
But, "The trouble is, you can’t farm spiders." Does he really think he has created a goat that can produced spider-type silk? Believe it or not, it works.
The spider-goat doesn’t have spinnerets–the female produces the silk in its udder, instead of milk. When Freckles is milked, the milk that squirts out if silled with spider silk protein. Lewis collects it and processes it in the lab until only the silk proteins remain. You can even see these fibers in her milk before the liquid is processed.
Rutherford quotes Lewis as saying, "It’s stronger than Kevlar. It really has some amazing properties for any kind of a fiber."
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