London - 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 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 to make new organs after heart failure.
The medusoid was made from a jelly-like material, with the pattern of protein molecules in a real jellyfish “printed” on top.
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.
Lead author Janna Nawroth, a biology PhD student at Caltech, said of the study – published in Nature Biotechnology: ‘” big goal of our study was to advance tissue engineering.
“Our idea was that we would make jellyfish functions – swimming and creating feeding currents – as our target, and then build a structure based on that information.” - Daily Mail