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A new kind of synthetic fiber with a stunning feature was recently developed. The material used for the experiment was a muscle fiber that can withstand any extremities compared with traditional fibers like cotton, nylon, and silk. In addition, synthetic muscle fiber is more durable than Kevlar, which can halt the pressure from a gunshot.


Synthetic Muscle Fiber vs. Traditional Polymer

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(Photo: Giovanna Canu, Eva Santini / WikiCommons)

Washington University in St. Louis' chemical engineering experts developed a new approach that could support the synthetic chemistry behind the modified microbes that house the polymerization of proteins. Through this process, the experts found that muscle proteins with high molecular levels were produced by the microbes. The muscle proteins developed in the process are called titin, which was then spun into a durable fiber. According to Technology Times, the experts did not harm any animal in the extraction of muscle fibers.

The synthetic muscle fiber study aims to produce a new polymer that can be on par with other man-made variants that are being used today. Although tough, strong, and long-lasting, traditional polymers have a disadvantage that most products today are still experiencing. The synthetic polymers currently available on the market are non-biodegradable and are manufactured using petroleum materials. In addition, creating them costs an excessive amount of both energy and byproduct.

Washington University's Department of Energy, Environmental, and Chemical Engineering expert Fuzhong Zhang said the production of the new synthetic fiber they have developed. According to the expert, many applications can be derived from the new fiber alongside its use in muscle fiber development. One of the advantages of using muscle fibers as a polymer alternative is that the said material is not harvested from animals nor harvested from an animal that was hurt or killed throughout the examination.

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Advantage of the Largest Protein in Synthetic Fibers and Medical Application

Titin, the fiber produced by synthetic muscle proteins, is one of the three major protein compositions that make up a muscle. Both the advantage and disadvantages of titin are having a large molecular size. The Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences expert and author of the study Cameron Sargent said that it was considered the largest protein ever recorded in biological studies due to the known molar size of titin.

Muscle fibers have been a topic of numerous bioscience studies in recent years. Most experts are also trying to find a solution that can replicate the properties exhibited by natural muscle fibers in synthetic polymers. Zhang and their team decided that to do this process, no animals shall be maltreated, which lead them to use microbes as the source of the required materials for the study.

Sargent mentioned that the synthetic muscle fibers they have developed have more potential than the initial polymer functions, including Kevlar and new types of clothing. The materials can also contribute to biomedical studies and treatments due to their properties compared to the biological muscle tissues. With that said, muscle fibers are advantageous in surgeries, structures, and tissue engineering. The whole coverage of the synthetic muscle fiber development was published in the journal Nature Communications, titled "Microbial Production Of Megadalton Titin Yields Fibers With Advantageous Mechanical Properties."

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