The field of tissue engineering has made remarkable strides over the past decade. Medgadget has covered the creation of artificial skin, blood vessels, and trachea, to name a few. Now, we have the pleasure of reporting that tissue engineers have created a jellyfish using a rather unusual source: rat heart tissue.
Here’s Harvard and Caltech researchers writing in Nature Biotechnology:
We report the construction of a freely swimming jellyfish from chemically dissociated rat tissue and silicone polymer as a proof of concept. The constructs, termed ‘medusoids’, were designed with computer simulations and experiments to match key determinants of jellyfish propulsion and feeding performance by quantitatively mimicking structural design, stroke kinematics and animal-fluid interactions. The combination of the engineering design algorithm with quantitative benchmarks of physiological performance suggests that our strategy is broadly applicable to reverse engineering of muscular organs or simple life forms that pump to survive.
There is even a video showing how the rat-jellyfish moves:
Beyond the “cool factor,” time will tell if the creation of such artificial pumps is a harbinger for useful medical applications.
Nature Biotechnology article: A tissue-engineered jellyfish with biomimetic propulsion