Leading article: Science comes a step closer to Spider-Man

Bulletproof skin, super-fine netting strong enough to bring down a fighter jet, artificial tendons that are even tougher and more flexible than the real thing. The potential uses of spider silk might be nothing out of the ordinary to Peter Parker, but scientists in the real world have struggled in vain for decades trying to work out ways to produce enough of the stuff to be useful. Not for much longer, perhaps.

The problem is that spiders' cannibalistic tendencies make any kind of farming impossible. There have been plenty of false starts, splicing spider genes into goats, and even bacteria, in an attempt to find a method of mass production. Finally, experiments with silkworms look like they might pay off. It is, of course, only early days. But the potential applications are world-changing. And with them life takes another small step in its imitation of art – in this case, obviously, a Marvel comic.