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Frankenstein’s Pet Jellyfish, “Frankenjelly”

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 3:20 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

After much trial and error, researchers have built a 1 cm jellyfish, or medusiod, out of rat heart cells. While some engineers build objects using standard materials such as concrete, metal or wood, these bioengineers are using living cells.

The reason for this experiment is not just to play around with nature, but to understand and design better artificial hearts and other muscular organs, which in turn helps with the advancement of medical implant device technology.

The bioengineers who spearheaded this project are: John Dabiri from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and Kevin Kit Parker from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Their motto was, “Copy nature, but not too much.”

After building an ideal jellyfish shape on silicon they then coached rat heart muscle cells to grow along the silicon and encased that product with an elastic material called an elastomer. In order to make it “swim”, through muscle flexing and contracting, the researchers submerged the jellyfish in a saline solution and ran an electric current through the water which “jump started” the heart cells into movement. When they did this the jellyfish propelled itself in the same way a real jellyfish would move.

Scientists agree that this groundbreaking research is expected to have a lasting impact on the future capability of medical implant devices.

Wired Science Original Article

Authored by: Meagan Thompson

Jellyfish Swimming

Rat Heart Cells

Rat Heart Cells

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