Silkworm silk-based materials and devices generated using bio-nanotechnology
Silks are natural fibrous protein polymers that are spun by silkworms and spiders. Among silk variants, there has been increasing interest devoted to the silkworm silk of B. mori, due to its availability in large quantities along with its unique material properties. Silk fibroin can be extracted from the cocoons of the B. mori silkworm and combined synergistically with other biomaterials to form biopolymer composites. With the development of recombinant DNA technology, silks can also be rationally designed and synthesized via genetic control. Silk proteins can be processed in aqueous environments into various material formats including films, sponges, electrospun mats and hydrogels. The versatility and sustainability of silk-based materials provides an impressive toolbox for tailoring materials to meet specific applications via eco-friendly approaches. Historically, silkworm silk has been used by the textile industry for thousands of years due to its excellent physical properties, such as lightweight, high mechanical strength, flexibility, and luster. Recently, due to these properties, along with its biocompatibility, biodegradability and non-immunogenicity, silkworm silk has become a candidate for biomedical utility. Further, the FDA has approved silk medical devices for sutures and as a support structure during reconstructive surgery. With increasing needs for implantable and degradable devices, silkworm silk has attracted interest for electronics, photonics for implantable yet degradable medical devices, along with a broader range of utility in different device applications. This Tutorial review summarizes and highlights recent advances in the use of silk-based materials in bio-nanotechnology, with a focus on the fabrication and functionalization methods for in vitro and in vivo applications in the field of tissue engineering, degradable devices and controlled release systems.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Peptide and protein nanotechnology