Skin Made from Spider Silk

German researchers have been working with golden silk orb-weaver spiders to gather their silk for testing as a potential material in human skin replacement. The photograph above is not the skin replacement, just an example of a textile woven from spider silk, as no photograph of the artificial skin was available. They found with the right conditions human skin cells† could grow on the spider silk. Keratinocytes and fibroblasts, the two main cell types were successfully grown on spider silk in patterns similar to what exists in live human skin. Spider silk was chosen because it is extremely strong, light in weight and stretches. It has been reported some spider silk† is actually five times stronger than steel, by weight. Spider silk is greener too because it doesn’t cause any toxic byproducts during processing and is biodegradable. (Some spiders also eat their own webs to recycle the protein to make a new one.)

“So silk could make for a very green product. Spider silk is also spun under benign ambient room-temperature conditions. That’s really different from something like nylon, which is a petroleum-based product thatís produced under high temperature, high-pressure conditions. Also, Kevlar has great attributes but it’s essentially inert – so if you want to dispose of it you pretty much have to incinerate it,” said a spider researcher. (Source:

Spider webs have been used in folk medicine to cover wounds, perhaps due to the fact they are high in vitamin K which helps with blood clotting. The silk from one spider has been used in animal brain cell regeneration research. Another potential medical application is tiny capsules containing trace amounts of drugs that can be targeted at very precise points because they are the size of a blood cell.

Other researchers have used genetic techniques to make it even stronger. Some other possible uses are:

  • textiles
  • nets
  • parachutes
  • seat belts and airbags
  • ropes
  • sporting goods

Video of a textile made from spider silk and exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History:

Image Credit: AMNH\R. Mickens

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Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

Must we always use and exploit animal species for our own gain...disappointing. Thanks.

Heidi H.
Past Member 5 years ago

Folk medicine holds so many secrets, let's hope we are open to learn so much more. Amazing.

Evelyn W.
Evelyn W5 years ago

It upset me to read that the web is being used in animal brain cell regeneration research.That does not sound pleasant.

Past Member
Past Member 5 years ago

Potentially awesome! But what are spider farms like?

iii q.
g d c6 years ago


Hilary S.
Hilary S6 years ago

australian aborigines have used spider webs for millennia as a wound dressing. and people thought they were primitive - just shows how much we have to learn and to benefit from people and methods which make a small footprint on the planet.

C.M Padget
Carolyn Padget6 years ago

I like the fact that textiles can be made from spider silk. But frankly the thought of it being a skin replacement makes my skin crawl!

Barry Appleby
Barry Appleby6 years ago

So once again we resort to exploiting another species for our own needs since despite
our human intelligence we cannot devise such a material.

Carol Cowbrough
Carol C6 years ago

Interesting. Thank you.

Vaiva G.
Vaiva G6 years ago

what a fascinating new way to use spider silk! especially since new techniques in skin replacement are so important!