A Jerusalem startup is replicating spider silk with industrial potential.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

Spiderman has amazing spider powers and the webbing he uses is the scientific creation of his alter-ego, mild-mannered photographer Peter Parker.

The webbing is strong enough to carry Spiderman’s weight as he swings across the city, and plentiful enough to catch and hold Gotham City’s bad guys.

Now, Seevix, a startup launched by Israeli researchers who don’t have super spider powers are replicating spider silk.

And their product has the potential to be used in a variety of products ranging from technical textiles, bulletproof vests, plastics, sporting goods, the automotive industry and even vegan cosmetics.

“The combination of strength and elasticity makes the material very unique in terms of its ability to absorb energy,” Israeli scientist Shlomzion Shen told NoCamels. Shen co-founded the Jerusalem-based Seevix along with Hebrew University scientist Shmulik Ittah.

The goal of the 15 biologists, engineers, chemists, and engineers employed by Seevix is to replicate spider silk to create strong, versatile and eco-friendly products that are both lighter and tougher despite silk’s threadbare weight.

“There are all kinds of calculations done by researchers around spider silk that say that if you have a spider web that has a diameter of a pencil, it can stop a Boeing 747 while flying,” Shen told NoCamels.

Spider silk can’t be cultivated naturally on an large scale because arachnids don’t produce enough silk to meet even minimal industrial demands, and also because spiders are cannibalistic and highly territorial.

Shen explained that in the course of her research at Hebrew University, it occurred to her that it was possible to “take the genetic code of spider silk and then synthetically engineer it into a certain biological production system.”

“We didn’t take the code from nature — the code from nature can’t be patented,” Shen told NoCamels.

“We actually were able to understand in that DNA code, what is important to keep in order to generate the functionality of those proteins and in order to generate something that can be produced in a different biological system than the spider. This genetic code, which is unique to us, has been patented,” she said.

Seevix now produces hundreds of kilograms of spider silk annually at a facility at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

According to Emergen Research, the global spider silk market size reached USD 1.26 Billion in 2021.

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