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.
“Morphologically, we’ve built a jellyfish. Functionally, we’ve built a jellyfish. Genetically, this thing is a rat,” says Kit Parker, a biophysicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the work.
News article is here: http://www.nature.com/news/artificial-jellyfish-built-from-rat-cells-1.11046
This sheet of rat heart is made by extracting fetal cells from a still-developing rat, plating them out on a matrix, and letting them grow outward in two dimensions. The resulting sheet of heart muscle cells responds to electrical stimulation and will even “beat” in meaningful, synchronous fashion on its own (if calcium is available).
Morbid and creepy, yes, but also kind of cool.
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