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Jellyfish engineered in lab may patch up a busted heart

Dubbed as “Medusoid” the synthetic creature has eight limbs or appendages resembling a flower with eight petals.

A jellyfish engineered from a seer polymer film and rat heart cells in the controlled confines of a laboratory may inspire the diseased heart to recover.

The aquatic creature was bio-engineered in the labs with the collective efforts of researchers from Harvard University and California Institute of Technology.

The scientists used cells taken from the hearts of rats and a thin covering of silicone to make the synthetic creature that knows how to swim.

The artificially created jellyfish from seer polymer film and heart cells from the rats popped up and swam vigorously in the water after it came “alive” with an electric zap.

This process was termed as a leap in the field of “bio mimicry”. Biomimicry is copying of a natural process by a laboratory creation.

The choice of the creator
The scientists chose a jellyfish due to its extraordinary swimming skills. It follows suction like open and close movement to propel itself forward with the force of the water.

The water flows in when the jellyfish cups up the bell shape of its body and throws the water out with force, when it contracts the body.

The force of the water driven out with pressure throws the jellyfish forward. The scientists view this contraction and expulsion of water with the pumping of the human heart.

Kit Parker, a biophysicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the work stated, ”It occurred to me in 2007 that we might have failed to understand the fundamental laws of muscular pumps."

He added, "I started looking at marine organisms that pump to survive. Then I saw a jellyfish at the New England Aquarium, and I immediately noted both similarities and differences between how the jellyfish and the human heart pump."

The bio engineered jellyfish
The artificially created creature was formed in a container swashed with electrically conductive fluid of approximately 1-5 volts to aid the jellyfish muscles contract and relax alternatively. Dubbed as “Medusoid” it has eight limbs or appendages resembling a flower with eight petals.

The appendages are protein coated akin to the muscle structures of a “living’ jellyfish. The protein in the limbs provides the nutrition necessary for directing the growth of the cells that have been retrieved from the rat heart muscles.

An excited John Dabiri, a bioengineer who studies biological propulsion at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena said, "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 behaviors that you see in biological jellyfish.

"I'm pleasantly surprised at how close we are getting to matching the natural biological performance, but also that we're seeing ways in which we can probably improve on that natural performance. The process of evolution missed a lot of good solutions."

Details of the experiment were published Sunday in the journal Nature Biotechnology.