US biotech company Bolt Threads has announced a partnership with Ginkgo Bioworks, a company creating a platform that allows users to “program cells as easily as computers”.
Through the collaboration, Bolt Threads hopes to make the manufacturing process for its synthetic silk protein more sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective. Called b-silk™, the product is inspired by spider silk, and clinical trials have shown that it has benefits for the skin. It has the potential to replace some synthetic, environmentally damaging ingredients in skin and hair care products.
However, the silk’s cost means it is currently used mostly in premium products. An improvement in production efficiency would allow it to be more widely adopted.
Bolt Threads is well-known for being at the forefront of sustainable material innovation, having also developed a mushroom-based leather alternative called Mylo™. Mylo has already been used by major brands such as Lululemon, Adidas, and Stella McCartney.
“Ginkgo’s expertise in engineering biology will enable us to accelerate our work transforming the clean beauty and personal care industries with new, sustainable ingredients that have been previously inaccessible to consumers,” said David Breslauer, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Bolt Threads. “B-silk protein has the potential to bring new performance properties to everyday products while utilizing truly sustainable production processes at scale.”