Scientists merge spider silk, human muscle to design a novel, self-assembling peptide

December 2, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Because of its high water content and polymer network, peptide hydrogel is a promising material for protein storage and transfer without significant loss of their biological activity. These hydrogels have potential as injectable materials for medical applications, e.g., liquid injection agents that become gelatinous in the human body to keep drugs around cancerous tumors. In this study, scientists from Kansas State University, University of Nebraska, and PNNL used two native functional sequences from spider flagelliform silk protein and a trans-membrane motif of human muscle L-type calcium channel to design a self-assembling peptide, h9e.

The h9e peptide formed two novel hydrogels in Ca2+ solution and acidic pH conditions—h9e Ca2+ hydrogel and h9e acidic hydrogel. The shear-thinning, rapid-strength-recovering h9e Ca2+ hydrogel proved to have potential for drug delivery and tissue-engineering applications and was tested on mice as an injectable adjuvant for H1N1 swine influenza virus killed vaccine. The study showed it was biologically safe, improved immune response on killed H1N1 virus antigen by approximately 70%, and induced a similar H1N1-specific IgG1 antibody response compared with an oil-based commercial adjuvant.

To assess these rationally designed peptide hydrogels, the researchers used electrospray ionization followed by analysis of the resulting ions in an LTQ-Orbitrap high-resolution mass spectrometer at EMSL. The mass spectrometry experiments were conducted to identify possible precursors of the peptide assembly and nanofiber crossing, as well as the binding mode of calcium to the peptides.

More information: Soft Matter 7(19):8905-8912. DOI: 10.1039/C1SM05157A (cover date: October 7, 2011).

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5 / 5 (2) Dec 02, 2011
Spider Man Assembly Manual, Step One:

"Merge spider silk, human muscle to design a novel, self-assembling peptide"
1 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2011
I just learned about spider goats. After reading it is true it still sounds crazy. My interest is in tarantula peptides as a treatment and/or possible cure for ALS also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. I had a totally crazy dream that tarantulas held the cure for ALS after my husband was diagnosed. For the past 2 years I have tried to find information about this and just recently found that there is a Dr. at the Univ. of Buffalo using these peptides in mice with MD with some success. The ALSTDI Found. is also doing research on the same thing for ALS! I'm not totally crazy. The problem is that antibodies to the peptides form after 2 weeks. This "spider goat" information led me to this website & 2 other articles about spider peptides & humans. I have forwarded it to the ALSTDI people on the off chance they hadn't seen it. I realize this kind of science is scary & could go terribly wrong but pray it helps keep anyone else from suffering like my husband who lost his battle in July.

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