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Biotech Science

Artificial Jellyfish Built From Silicone and Rat Cells 61

ananyo writes "Bioengineers have made an artificial jellyfish using silicone and muscle cells from a rat's heart. The synthetic creature, dubbed a medusoid, looks like a flower with eight petals. When placed in an electric field, it pulses and swims exactly like its living counterpart. The team now plans to build a medusoid using human heart cells. The researchers have filed a patent to use their design, or something similar, as a platform for testing drugs (abstract). 'You've got a heart drug?' says Kit Parker, a biophysicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the work. 'You let me put it on my jellyfish, and I'll tell you if it can improve the pumping.'" The video that accompanies the text is at once beautiful and creepy.
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Artificial Jellyfish Built From Silicone and Rat Cells

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  • by bdwoolman ( 561635 ) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @05:32PM (#40731819) Homepage
    The jelly moves through the water. In the heart the water moves through the jelly. Same basic action. Imagine the same device being built using human cells, especially cells from the potential patient, this chimeric pump is a first step, perhaps a major step, in building a bioelectric replacement heart or even an auxiliary heart. They sussed that bioelectric pumps work by sending an electrochemical wave front through the tissue. In principal a jellyfish and a heart have a lot in common. Especially in some people.
  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @05:46PM (#40731875)
    There has been some research already that offers a potential there: Growing cells onto a temporary scaffold. It's still many years away from being able to grow a heart in a lab from a patient's own cells, but the possibility is there. Simpler organs are already in use that way - trachea, bladder, some others - but hearts are much more difficult. You'd still need a pacemaker though, an artificially grown heart isn't going to contain the required nerves to keep everything contracting in sync without one.
  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AlXtreme ( 223728 ) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @05:57PM (#40731937) Homepage Journal

    Why not?

    This isn't about making artificial jellyfish, it's about creating new organisms made out of both organic and inorganic material. Regardless of use, I think this is rather awesome.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.