How jellyfish created in a lab could help cut toll of heart deaths: First step towards 'biological' pacemakers


The graphic show the difference in muscle design between a real jellyfish and the artificial medusoid

Scientists have created an artificial jellyfish which they hope could change the face of pacemakers forever.
They say the creature, which is made from silicone and heart tissue from rats, could be used to help create a new generation of ‘biological’ pacemakers which do not need electrical signals.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology created the artificial jellyfish – called a medusoid – after studying the fast muscle contractions which propel the animals through the water.

'Fake' jellyfish: The medusoid is swimming in container of ocean-like salt water

They put it in a tank of ocean-like salt water fitted with an electric current and managed to ‘shock’ it into synchronised movements like a real jellyfish.
The scientists said that, with more work, it could be engineered to pulsate by itself, as human hearts do.
They added that it could be used to create pacemakers that do not need electrical signals or even to engineer new organs after heart failure.
Co-author Kevin Kit Parker, Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at Harvard, said he began the research because he thought scientists may have failed to understand how muscle pumping works.

The graphic show compare the power stroke velocities and recovery stroke vorticity of a real jelly fish compared to the Medusoid construct

He said: ‘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 pumps and the human heart.’
The medusoid, which has eight spindly arms, was built out of a jelly-like material, with the pattern of protein molecules in a real jellyfish ‘printed’ on top of it. The rat tissue, which could be stimulated by an electric current even after removal from the hearts, was then incorporated.
The researchers said this was a ‘glimpse into the future of re-engineering whole organisms’ to advance medical technology.

source: dailymail