Protective clothing made of slime

Researchers at the University of Guelph have struck again! (See also my June 21, 2012 posting about their work on packaging for mangoes.) This time, it’s hagfish slime. From the Nov. 28, 2012 news item on ScienceDaily,

… If new scientific research pans out, people may be sporting shirts, blouses and other garments made from fibers modeled after those in the icky, super-strong slime from a creature called the hagfish. The study appears in ACS’ journal Biomacromolecules.

Lead author Atsuko Negishi, her supervisor Douglas S. Fudge and colleagues explain that petroleum is the raw material for making modern synthetics. Rising prices and the quest for more sustainable alternatives have led scientists to consider the possibilities of using protein-based raw materials, such as spider silk. Another candidate comes from the hagfish, an eel-like fish that produces a thick slime to protect itself against predators. A single Atlantic Hagfish can produce quarts of slime in seconds. It clogs the gills and may suffocate other fish. The slime consists of tens of thousands of remarkably strong threads, each 100 times thinner than a human hair. The scientists set out to investigate spinning spider-silk-like fibers from the proteins of these slime threads.

I gather the scientists were successful given the title of their scientific paper,

The Production of Fibers and Films from Solubilized Hagfish Slime Thread Proteins by Atsuko Negishi, Clare L. Armstrong, Laurent Kreplak, Maikel C. Rheinstadter, Loong-Tak Lim, Todd E. Gillis, and Douglas S. Fudge in Biomacromolecules, 2012, 13 (11), pp 3475–3482 DOI: 10.1021/bm3011837 Publication Date (Web): September 27, 2012 Copyright © 2012 American Chemical Society

Interesting to note that the American Chemical Society has a copyright notice for an article about research that was funded at least partially by taxpayers. From the ScienceDaily news item,

The authors acknowledge funding from the Advanced Foods and Materials Network and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation.

Good luck to the researchers at the University of Guelph in their pursuit of protective clothing made of hagfish slime to replace materials using petroleum products.

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