Engineering jellyfish -- practice for human tissue
CalTech and Harvard researchers have teamed up to create a rudimentary swimming jellyfish from silicon and rat muscle cells. The researchers worked out the ideal shape for a certain type of jellyfish, and constructed a sufficiently durable, firm, and flexible "jellyfish substrate" out of silicon. Once they had the main body, the team grew rat muscles by patterning the body with proteins that served as a "road map" for the muscle cells. The simulated jellyfish body was powered by pulsing a small electric current through the water, stimulating the rat muscles to contract regularly and propel the device through the water. "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," said study collaborator John Dabiri, professor of aeronautics and bioengineering at Caltech.
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