Artificial jellyfish created from heart cells
2012 07 24

From: BBCNews

Scientists in the US have created a free swimming artificial jellyfish.

The team members built the replica using silicone as a base on which to grow heart muscle cells that were harvested from rats.

They used an electric current to shock the Medusoid into swimming with synchronised contractions that mimic those of real jellyfish.

The advance, by researchers at Caltech and Harvard University, is reported in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

The finding serves as a proof of concept for reverse engineering a variety of muscular organs and simple life forms.

Because jellyfish use a muscle to pump their way through the water, the way they function - on a very basic level - is similar to that of a human heart.

"I started looking at marine organisms that pump to survive," said Kevin Kit Parker, a professor of bioengineering and applied physics at Harvard.

"Then I saw a jellyfish at the New England Aquarium, and I immediately noted both similarities and differences between how the jellyfish pumps and the human heart.

"The similarities help reveal what you need to do to design a bio-inspired pump."

Mechanical movement

The work also points to a broader definition of "synthetic life" in an emerging field of science that has until now focused on replicating life’s building blocks, say the researchers.

Prof Parker said he wanted to challenge the traditional view of synthetic biology which is "focused on genetic manipulations of cells". Instead of building just a cell, he sought to "build a beast".

The two groups at Caltech and Harvard worked for years to understand the key factors that contribute to jellyfish propulsion, including the arrangement of their muscles, how their bodies contract and recoil, and how fluid dynamics helps or hinders their movements.




Once these functions were well understood, the researchers began to reverse engineer them.

They used silicone to fashion a jellyfish-shaped body with eight arm-like appendages.

Next, they printed a pattern made of protein onto the "body" that resembled the muscle architecture of the real animal.

They grew the heart muscle cells on top, with the protein pattern serving as a road map for the growth and organisation of the rat tissue. This allowed them to turn the cells into a coherent swimming muscle.

When the researchers set the Medusoid free in a container of electrically conducting fluid, they shocked the Medusoid into swimming with synchronised contractions. The muscle cells even started to contract a bit on their own before the electrical current was applied.


[...]


Read the full article at: bbc.co.uk





"This video shows the launch and swimming of a tissue-engineered jellyfish, or "Medusoid," compared to real jellyfish, and the intermediate design steps. The construct is made from silicone rubber and powered by lab-grown heart tissue. Contraction of the Medusoid, at a frequency of 1-2Hz, can be triggered by external electrical field stimulation. The Medusoid was built in a proof-of-concept study at Caltech and Harvard for designing muscular pumps for biomedical application."







Related Articles
Scientist claims jellyfish-like aliens exist
Jellyfish-Like Organisms Shut Down California Power Plant
Robot jellyfish: U.S. Navy-backed researchers developing Robojelly


Latest News from our Front Page

Magaluf bar where British girl was filmed performing sex acts on 24 men is shut down after police investigation into video
2014 07 26
Is this what the youth in Britain and Europe is spending their their energy, money, efforts and innocence on? The young girl, pictured, was lured into performing multiple sex acts after organisers offered a free drink although she thought a holiday was on offer* Council officials launched an official investigation after the video went viral Playhouse bar in Magaluf and entertainment ...
Prejudice is a Form of Common Sense - Hard-Wired Into the Human Brain, Says ASU Study
2014 07 26
Contrary to what most people believe, the tendency to be prejudiced is a form of common sense, hard-wired into the human brain through evolution as an adaptive response to protect our prehistoric ancestors from danger. So suggests a new study published by Arizona State University researchers in the May issue of the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology," which contends that, ...
The State is a Bully
2014 07 24
In the history of Western philosophy and social theory, no really silly idea has been more successful than the theory of the social contract. It is in fact not a theory of the social contract. It is a theory of the political contract. It is the idea, promoted by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, that, at some point in ...
NATO Exercise in Ukraine Coincided with MH-17 Shoot-down
2014 07 24
Rapid Trident was omitted from the flurry of coverage on the shoot-down MH-17. From the U.S. Army in Europe website: Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies. ...
Warning of ’imminent’ terror attack in Norway
2014 07 24
Norwegians were warned Thursday of the concrete possibility of a terror attack occurring in that country at the hands of people with connections to an extremist group in Syria. A press conference was called in Oslo, Norway on Thursday where an announcement was made of a "possible concrete threat" to national security in that country from terrorists related to an extremist ...
More News »