Kraig, a developer of spider silk-based fibres, has announced that it has completed the development phase of a new programme targeting the largest challenge facing global silk production, viral pathogens. As reported in the Journal of Biological Control, volume 31, viral diseases can result in total annual silk production losses of as much as 32 per cent.
Kraig Labs has developed its first immune-enhancing genetic insert, designed to create disease-resistant silkworms. The company is now ready for its first round of transgenic creation and resistance testing. This effort was done in a parallel, and complementary, effort to the company’s ground-breaking programme developing high-performance spider silk inspired silk fibres and yarns, the company said in a media statement.
Global silk production is expected to reach $17 billion in 2021; the economic impact of eliminating the loss from disease is a multi-billion dollar opportunity. The company anticipates that its development of a disease resistant silkworm could be licensed across the entire global silk industry.
CEO and founder of Kraig, Kim Thompson said, “Our work to enhance the disease resistance of our silkworms complements and strengths our focus in bringing our recombinant spider silk to market. We believe that success in this effort will also provide significant opportunities for growth far beyond the reach of Kraig’s in-house production capacity, with licensing applications globally”.