Using some recent advances in marine biomechanics, materials science and tissue engineering, a team of researchers from Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology have made a set of silicone and a live heart muscle in a free-swimming medusa.
The discovery has served as a proof of concept that with a variety of engineering and muscular bodies can create simple life forms . Also allows for a broader definition of what is important to create synthetic life.
The researchers’ method for the construction of this jellyfish, nicknamed ‘Medusoide’ has been published in the journal Nature Biotechnology .
Kevin Kit Parker, an expert on the matter and tissue water has been the author of the study. He had previously shown that some artificial biological structures could hold on, beat and even walking. However, the idea of creating this jellyfish comes from his own frustration in the heart field.
In a manner similar to human heart moves blood throughout the body, the jellyfish is propelled through the water with a similar beat.
“I thought in 2007 that could have failed in understanding the fundamental laws of the muscle pumps,” said Parker, a professor of bioengineering and applied psychology at Harvard University. “I started looking for marine organisms to survive had to be pumped constantly . Then I saw a jellyfish in the New England Aquarium and immediately tracked down some similarities and differences between the movement of one of them and human heartbeat. “
To construct the Medusoide, Parker has worked with Janna Nawroth, a student who was taking his doctorate in biology at the California Institute of Technology and author of the study.
“A major point of our study was the breakthrough in terms of textile engineering,” says Nawroth. “In many ways, remains an art qualitative , with people constantly trying to copy only based on what they think is important or what they consider best components, not understanding that the components are relevant to each function with or without analyzing the different materials that could be used. “
It is believed that the jellyfish could be world’s oldest multi-agency , where the fundamental issue is that they use their muscles to pump and to move through the water.Moreover, its basic morphology is similar to the human heart.
To apply engineering to a jellyfish, the researchers used an analysis tool normal fields of biometrics and crystallography to map common alignment of networks of proteinsubcellular within all muscle cells within the animal . This can lead to some studies to help understand the electropsicología propulsion of jellyfish.
Based on these understandings, it turned out that a piece of muscle tissue of the heart of cultured rat that contracts when it is stimulated electrically in a liquid medium, was theperfect material to create a substitute for jellyfish . The team then joined a polymer silicone as a body of the creature artificial a thin membrane that resembles a small jellyfish , eight lugs simulating the arms.
This artificial construction put in a container with salt water like the ocean and the artificial construction began to move like a jellyfish true even before he aplicasen the electric shock.
“It was amazing how few got silicone components play a complex and so beautiful that nothing moves autonomously,” said Babiri.
“As engineers, we are very comfortable with buildings outside the steel, copper or concrete” laughs Parker. “I think the cell construction is similar to any other type of architecture but we need to be much more rigorous when it comes to move forward. “
In addition to advancing the field of tissue engineering, Parker adds that he took on the challenge of building a creature to challenge the traditional view of synthetic biology is “focused on the genetic manipulation of cells . ” Instead of build only one cell , tried to “build a beast. “