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Our transgenic goats were originally produced by Nexia Biotechnologies in Canada. They have largely now been brought to the United States (thanks to an exemption by the USDA). These goats express one of two spider silk proteins in their milk; Major ampullate silk protein 1 (MaSp1) or major ampullate silk protein 2 (MaSp2). These proteins are expressed only in the milk as the proteins production is linked to milk specific proteins (whey acidic protein or casein). The spider silk proteins then have to be purified (link this to Heather Rothfuss write-up once completed) from the other milk proteins, a process that is challenging! These purified proteins can then be used for a wide range of applications. One of the most exciting applications is wound repair and bone regeneration. We currently have collaborations to provide protein so that spider silks unique structural, mechanical and immunological advantages can be explored as they relate to healing wounds and replacing bone.
Our transgenic goats are very strictly regulated. The reason is that very little is known about the safety of transgenic animals. Having this herd allows us to also study some of these safety aspects. We are currently focusing on maternal and twin to twin transfer of the foreign DNA.
More information and photo's can be found here.