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article imageArtificial jellyfish could potentially save lives

By Melissa Horrocks     Jul 22, 2012 in Health
Scientists have created an artificial jellyfish that could potentially save lives in the future. The jellyfish is made out of transparent elastic silicone, which could help form future organic organs.
According to Yahoo News, scientists have created a jellyfish that swims by using pulsating rat heart cells. Scientists behind the prototype believe that the technology could be used to change human medicine. It's an amazing achievement that scientists have been working towards for a long time.
The jellyfish is created by using transparent elastic silicone and is several centimeters in width. Researchers at California Institute of Technology used silicone to print the muscle structure of the jellyfish.
Protein molecules from the rat's hearts were added to the material and the printed structure guided the growth and organisation. When the material was removed from the heart, individual heart cells contracted, responding to an electrical current. Five volt electric pulses were passed through the Medusoid, causing it to swim through the water.
Future versions are hoped to be created that can respond to their environment, and possibly need energy or food. Organic pacemakers or advanced bio-engineered organs for humans could be made from the printing techniques, according to scientists.
Team member Professor John Dabiri said:
"We're re-imagining how much we can do in terms of synthetic biology.
"I was surprised that with relatively few components - a silicone base and cells that we arranged - we were able to reproduce some pretty complex swimming and feeding behaviours that you see in biological jellyfish."
According to The Guardian, the artificial jellyfish is no larger than a 1p coin, the machine which is bio-engineered copies the style of a baby jellyfish by moving its synthetic body into a bell like shape to thrust itself forward through the water.
The "medusoid" was named after medusa, also a historic name for jellyfish. The medusoid was created after observing the movement of Aurelia aurita (juvenile moon jellyfish)
Unlike the well known bell shaped body of the mature jellyfish, the baby creatures have eight lobes that reach out from the centre like arms. Parker developed the idea for the jellyfish as he observed one swimming in the New England Aquarium, in Boston.
The medusoid copies the movement of the real organism so closely that it even makes vortices in the water like real jellyfish do, to get food into their mouths. It took four years to create the medusoid and scientists have started work on more complicated artificial marine creatures.
The robotic version of the creature could be soon used to make artificial organs like, the heart. The artificial jellyfish is capable of creating tissue. Scientists are hoping to create a Medusoid that works on its own, using internal signals, like real hearts do. In years to come, it could be placed inside a human, without the need for a battery, reports The Metro.
More about Jellyfish, Artificial, Heart, Lives, rat heart
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