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Worms may spin silk fit for skin

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10:42am, February 25, 2003

Silk cocoons could become puffs of valuable human proteins if a new bioengineering method developed by Japanese scientists pans out.

In the past few decades, various biotechnology research teams have devised ways to mass-produce medically or industrially useful proteins by modifying the DNA of organisms. The animals create the proteins in their cells, milk, urine, or eggs (SN: 4/6/02, p. 213: Scrambled Drugs: Transgenic chickens could lay golden eggs).

Now, Katsutoshi Yoshizato of Hiroshima University and his colleagues have genetically altered silkworms to produce a partial form of human collagen in their silk. Collagen is the structural protein in skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and bones.

Given that s

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