Natural functional plasticizers for controlled protein folding and extrustion into biomaterials

01 June 2016 → 31 May 2019
European funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Bio-organic chemistry
    • Organic chemical synthesis
    • Organic chemistry not elsewhere classified
Spiders spinning gland
Project description

With a raised global awareness of industrial environmental pollution, the polymer research is focusing on green biopolymers. The spinning gland of spiders and silk moths is the holy grail in green extrusion, as silk is spun at ambient conditions and is water based. This is achieved by finely tuned spinning parameters is the silk gland (pH, ion concentration, stress and water removal), whereby the soluble silk solution is converted into a solid fibre. To date, no one has ever succeeded in spinning at these ambient conditions, used in the natural spinning system. In this project, one missing spinning parameter will be investigated, namely small molecules, in the form of polyphenolic compounds, that are also extruded together with the silk. We formulate the hypothesis that these small molecules help to align and may even induce beta-sheet aggregation by removing the water necessary for converting the silk protein solution into a solid fibre during spinning.