Thursday, 17 March 2011

Drug delivery potential for spider silk

AMSilk, a privately-held company specializing in the development and production of high performance materials based on spider silk, is announcing the successful completion of a 5 million Euro Series B financing round. Investors include MIG Fonds 6, MIG Fonds 7 and MIG Fonds 11, as well as AT Newtec. The newly raised funds will secure AMSilk’s advancement and commercialization efforts for its first spider silk-based products.

AMSilk is currently developing a SPIDERSILK coating for certain implants to improve biocompatibility and reduce fibrosis. Additionally, a recent publication in the scientific journal Biomaterials (2011;32(8):2233-40) shows that SPIDERSILK beads are efficient drug delivery vehicles. These two examples illustrate the broad commercial range of the SPIDERSILK material.

AMSilk produces and processes SPIDERSILK, high performance biopolymers copied from the proteins of web-weaving spiders. SPIDERSILK has unique properties such as mechanical toughness, chemical resistance and biocompatibility - while being completely biodegradable. AMSilk is able to produce SPIDERSILK in large scale and produce coatings, beads, films, nonwovens, and fibers used to improve existing or to develop completely new products. AMSilk is, together with various partners, developing several applications for this new material. The successful kilogram-scale production and the continuous development of optimized processing parameters since the company foundation in 2008 were important prerequisites for the new series B financing round.

AMSilk produces SPIDERSILK in bacteria using a sustainable and environmentally friendly process that requires no fossil fuel-based chemicals and generates no toxic waste.

"We are excited to continue our partnership with the investors who have supported us since the company formation in 2008,” says Axel Leimer, Managing Director of AMSilk. “There is an urgent need to develop new and superior cleantech products with a smaller environmental footprint and previously unachievable features. The newly raised funds will be used to commercialize our products through partnerships with leading companies across major industries," added Leimer.

Spider silk has attracted human interest for thousands of years, mainly due to its toughness and ductility. As with most biomaterials, spider silk has evolved over millions of years resulting in properties that far exceed any man-made material. Until now, it was not possible to utilize this high-performance material for technical applications.

AMSilk is the first company to produce SPIDERSILK biopolymers, copied from the proteins of web-weaving spiders, on an industrial scale. This makes possible a completely new set of technical products as well as major improvements for already existing products.