Cyborgs are no longer relegated to the realms of science fiction. Scientists have succeeded in building a swimming jellyfish mimic in the lab from silicon and rat muscle cells. The team observed the movement of juvenile jellyfish, which contract their bell-shaped bodies by activating fine lines of muscles along the length of their radiating tentacles. Researchers moulded rat muscle cells onto a sheet of elastic silicone cut to mimic the basic body plan of the Aurelia species. The silicone naturally recoils when the radially-arranged threads of rat heart muscle cells contract, effectively mimicking the pump action of a swimming jellyfish. Researchers who collaborated to build the model medusoid hope that the technique could be applied to improve replacement tissues, among other biomedical applications. Current tissue replacement techniques are passive, but this technique could be used to create active replacements for components such as heart valves.
Written by Brona McVittie
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