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Open Biol. 2018 Oct 31;8(10). pii: 180113. doi: 10.1098/rsob.180113.

The past, present and future of protein-based materials.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
Department of Interdisciplinary Science, Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology, Institute for Quantitative Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK


Protein-based materials are finding new uses and applications after millennia of impacting the daily life of humans. Some of the earliest uses of protein-based materials are still evident in silk and wool textiles and leather goods. Today, even as silks, wools and leathers are still be used in traditional ways, these proteins are now seen as promising materials for biomaterials, vehicles of drug delivery and components of high-tech fabrics. With the advent of biosynthetic methods and streamlined means of protein purification, protein-based materials-recombinant and otherwise-are being used in a host of applications at the cutting edge of medicine, electronics, materials science and even fashion. This commentary aims to discuss a handful of these applications while taking a critical look at where protein-based materials may be used in the future.


biomaterials; drug delivery; protein-based materials; recombinant proteins

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