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Bulletproof skin with a little spider assistance

world Updated: Aug 23, 2011 00:24 IST

Bulletproof vests have been around for decades but skin that can stop bullets has only been the preserve of science fiction.

The most famous example is Superman, or the Man of Steel - bullets simply ricochet off of him.

Now, scientists have claimed to be making this science fiction a reality with the development of bulletproof human skin made from spider's silk and goat's milk.

They genetically engineered goats to produce milk, which is packed with the same protein as the silk from spiders, which is then milked out and spun and weaved into a material that is almost ten times stronger than steel.

The fabric is then blended with the human skin to make what the scientists hope will be tough enough to stop even a bullet.

Dutch researcher Jalila Essaidi said the 'spidersilk' project was called '2.6g 329m/s' after the weight and the velocity of a .22 calibre rifle bullet.

Working with the Forensic Genomics Consortium in the Netherlands, she said the goal was to replace the keratin in our skin with spider's silk.

The first stage involves growing a layer of real skin around a sample of the bulletproof skin, which takes about five weeks.

"Imagine a spidersilk vest, capable of catching bullets, the modern day equivalent of Genghis Khan's arrows," the Daily Mail quoted Essaidi as saying, on Monday.

"Now, let's take this one step further, why bother with a vest: imagine replacing keratin, the protein responsible for the toughness of the human skin, with this spidersilk protein, the Daily Mail reported

"This is possible by adding the silk-producing genes of a spider to the gnome of a human: creating a bulletproof human," the reported said.