Here’s an unusual story. As part of a “bio-art” project, Dutch artist Jalila Essaïdi collaborated with the Forensic Genomics Consortium Netherlands with the goal of developing bulletproof skin. To accomplish this, the scientists merged human skin cells with spider silk harvested from transgenic goats. In tests, the skin proved to be strong enough to stop a .22 caliber bullet fired at a reduced speed. It didn’t succeed, however, in repelling a bullet fired at full speed. Despite that setback, such skin could eventually be used for an array of medical applications, including burn and wound treatment, and tendon and ligament repair.
Vastly stronger than steel, spider silk is notoriously difficult to come by; harvesting the material from arachnids is complicated by the fact that the creatures are both highly territorial and cannibalistic. For that reason, the silk used for this application was made from genetically engineered goats that excreted silk protein in their milk.
The skin created for this project features a spider-silk matrix sandwiched between a dermis and epidermis layer.
The skin is on display at the National Natural History Museum in Leiden, Netherlands.
A video explaining how silk was harvested from milk from transgenic goats:
And for our Dutch speakers, here’s more about the silk with time at the gun range:
Artist’s description of the bulletproof skin: 2.6g 329m/s