1. Molecular Design
Spiber designs new protein molecules that balance performance and productivity—an essential balance for any industrialized process. Bioinformatic analyses of amino acid sequences and genetic codes allow us to achieve increases in tensile strength, elasticity, and heat tolerance in addition to improving the fermentation productivity of host microorganisms.
2. Gene Synthesis
High-throughput gene synthesis is vital to the efficient development of new protein molecules with various amino acid sequences. However, the sequences present in spider silk proteins are highly repetitive, making this process incredibly challenging. At Spiber, we have completely overcome this obstacle, and have the ability to synthesize any type of fibroin genes in a minimum of just three days. To date, we have synthesized over 250 artificial spider silk genes by using this new technology, and add more to our gene library every day.
3. Microbial Fermentation
Once new candidate fibroin genes are designed and synthesized, we use our proprietary protein expression system to test produce proteins. We incorporate the synthesized genetic DNA into microorganisms, granting them the ability to produce fibroin proteins. Test spinning can begin as soon as 10 days after gene synthesis is complete, once fermentation and refining conditions have been fine-tuned. After the initial candidates have been screened, we can scale up to obtain larger quantities of prospective proteins as necessary. Spiber boasts the highest rate of microbial fibroin protein expression in the world. Compared to our rate of expression when research first began, the advancements in our fermentation process and gene design capabilities have lead to an astounding 2,500 fold increase in productivity.
Fibroin proteins produced through microbial fermentation are refined and formed into fibers through our proprietary spinning process. The properties of the resulting artificial spider silk are carefully analyzed and recorded in our database, to be leveraged in future molecular designs. Here at Spiber, we have created entirely new technology to spin artificial fibroin fibers with toughness comparable to natural spider silk. Moreover, we have established the first scalable spinning process in the world, paving the way for the mass production of artificial spider silk.
We manufacture the spun fibers into a variety of materials, such as textiles and composites, in order to prototype finished products. Repeating this prototyping and evaluation allows us to develop the necessary equipment and processes for production with these new materials, maximizing value for the end user. From the initial genetic synthesis to the final prototyping, a multitude of parameters influence productivity and functionality, the assessments of which are stored in our databases. This data will be fed back into the next generation of molecular design, and a new cycle will begin.