Franken-Jellyfish Swim May Inspire New Heart-Repair Treatments

Sunday, 22 Jul 2012 04:24 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

A bioengineered water creature, made from heart cells of rats and silicone, came “alive” with an electric zap and swam like a jellyfish, according to its Harvard University and California Institute of Technology creators.

The research, published today in the journal Nature Biotechnology shows how scientists can create life-like forms by replicating the structure and function of simple creatures, in this case, a jellyfish. Its pulsating properties, like that of a human heart, also suggest that the eight-legged thing dubbed “Medusoid,” may one day lead to new therapeutic devices, such as pacemakers, made from organic substances, scientists said.

“As engineers, we’re very comfortable building with plastics and metals, but in the long term, we think the more viable approach is to build these components out of biological materials,” John Dabiri, a study author and professor at CalTech, said in an interview. “The big picture here is to try to develop tools to improve biomedical technology -- so think about repair of a damaged heart.”

Scientists crafted their Medusoid from the heart cells of rats to give it pumping action, a silicone polymer membrane to give it an elastic structure that enabled motion and then covered the membrane with a protein arranged in the same pattern as a jellyfish’s muscle assembly. They then released it into a laboratory pool of fluid and shocked it, Frankenstein-like, to spur its motion.

The Frankenstein analogy “certainly came to my mind when I started working on this project,” Dabiri said. “Our objective is more noble, I hope -- we want to use this to improve people’s lives.”

Viable Organs

Ultimately, Dabiri said he wants to create a version that doesn’t need an outside source of energy, a key step toward creating a viable replacement organ. Current artificial hearts are passive, and rely on an electrical charge to make them beat, much like the Medusoid relies on electrical currents to spur its eight arms to move.

An active replacement organ would be able to generate its own power by absorbing nutrients from a patient’s bloodstream, he said, just as real organs do, though that ability is years away from becoming reality.

Another goal of the research was to see if tissue engineering could be improved by an approach that focused on a function of an organism rather than its components.

That notion occurred to Kevin Kit Parker, a professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at Harvard and one of the study’s authors, on a visit to the New England Aquarium in Boston.

“I started looking at marine organisms that pump to survive,” he said in a statement. “Then I saw a jellyfish at the New England Aquarium, and I immediately noted both similarities and differences between how the jellyfish pumps and the human heart. The similarities help reveal what you need to do to design a bio-inspired pump.”


© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Apple Sees Another IPhone-Fueled Record for Holiday Sales

Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 06:13 AM

Tim Cook is getting the end-of-year shopping season down to a science.
Apple Inc.'s chief executive officer yesterd . . .

Microsoft Plans to Launch Smartwatch in Weeks: Forbes

Sunday, 19 Oct 2014 19:00 PM

Microsoft Corp. is preparing to launch a smartwatch within the next few weeks that will passively track a user's heart r . . .

Facebook Unfriends Federal Drug Agency

Saturday, 18 Oct 2014 13:13 PM

Facebook wants assurances from the Drug Enforcement Administration that it's not operating any more fake profile pages a . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved