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Scientists Create Artificial Jellyfish, Hope to Save Lives

Dubbed the Medusoid, this “fish” represents new advancements in synthetic biology.

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At a time when most Long Islanders are doing their best to avoid getting stun by the influx of squishy pests along our beaches, researchers from Caltech and Harvard have created an artificial jellyfish-like mass of tissue. Fastened from a silicone base and an intricate matrix of living heart cells extracted from rats and arranged in a pattern similar to the muscles of the real deal, the Medusoid is able to mimic the swimming motions of actual jellies.

Using its eight appendages, the fake animal can swim and “feed” by pulsating when a small electrical current is run through the fluid it “lives” in. Scientists hope that this will be the first in a series of steps leading to an artificial jellyfish that can move and react to its environment without external stimulation.

Such an advance could prove vital for those in need of heart transplants or pace makers in the future. The pumping action jellyfish muscles use to swim is very similar to that used by our own hearts to move blood through our bodies. Should scientists be able to create an independently functioning mock jellyfish, the next step would be a synthetic biological patch for hearts in need of mending, with the potential for an artificial heart on the horizon. If doctors could implant these synthetics in those in need, patients could survive for years without additional invasive procedures or fine tuning. There would be no need to replace the tissue regularly in the same way that battery-operated pacemakers can require.


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