Kowa Company, Ltd. and the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization recently discovered that bagworm silk is even more useful than spider silk, and pursued this discovery to develop cutting-edge technologies for using bagworm silk in industrial applications.
Kowa Company, Ltd. (Kowa), headquartered in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture (president and CEO: Yoshihiro Miwa); and the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), headquartered in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan (president: Kazuo Kyuma) conducted joint research into bagworm silk and discovered that it has a wide range of industrial applications. The results of this ground-breaking research were then taken a step further by developing the technologies necessary for practical application. The major achievements are:
Spider silk, which has long been regarded as the strongest natural fiber, has been studied all over the world. However, it was thanks to our landmark endeavors that bagworm silk has been found to be superior even to spider silk; thus we can now call bagworm silk the world's strongest natural fiber. Bagworm silk is a silk fiber made from protein, and Kowa and NARO consider this silk fiber to be a sustainable product that will contribute to a non-oil society as a revolutionary bio-material. As it is produced by an insect, the manufacturing process does not cause any environmental load, and thus can contribute to realizing a low-carbon society with a small energy consumption.
Silk is also studied as a material for regenerative medicine. Actually, silkworm fiber is commercially available in the United States as a tissue supporting material (medical device), and various studies on silkworm fiber are underway. It may be possible to apply bagworm silk protein to medical applications as a bio-material by leveraging its properties.
Kowa considers bagworm silk to be a revolutionary new material that will contribute to the creation of a state-of-the-art new industry in terms of bio-economy in addition to its superior mechanical properties, and will construct a manufacturing organization to industrialize the material in coordination with other companies.
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