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Queen Mary University of LondonQueen Mary University of London
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School of Engineering and Materials Science
Research Student Awards

PhD Thesis: Comparative studies of Silkworm and Spider Silk as potential scaffold

Author: HAKIMI, Osnat

Year: 2009

Supervisor(s): Pankaj Vadgama

This project was aimed at studying the potential of natural silk fibres for tissue engineering. Species studied included degummed brins from the domestic silkworm Bombyx mori, the wild silkworm Antheraea pernyi and egg sac silk fibres from the spider Nephila edulis.

Results showed that all three silks shared a similar hierarchical ultrastructure of nanofibrils bundled into microfibrils, running parallel to the axis of the fibre. The silks also shared a lined, ridged topography where the fibroin monofilament was exposed or smooth topography when still coated in gum. However, tested silks differed in diameter, morphology, amino acid content and intrinsic fluorescence. Tensile test showed that preparation for cell culture procedures, including sterilisation by autoclaving and water wetting had little or no effect on the mechanical properties, with the exception of medium incubation, which had a statistically significant effect on the mechanical properties of all tested silks. Cell growth studies showed that exposure of endothelial and myofibroblast cells to silk reduced their growth rates.