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From the “Genetics isn’t what we used to think” files

In “Artificial jellyfish built from rat cells”at Nature News (22 July 2012), Ed Yong tells us,

Bioengineers have made an artificial jellyfish using silicone and muscle cells from a rat’s heart. The synthetic creature, dubbed a medusoid, looks like a flower with eight petals. When placed in an electric field, it pulses and swims exactly like its living counterpart.

“Morphologically, we’ve built a jellyfish. Functionally, we’ve built a jellyfish. Genetically, this thing is a rat,” says Kit Parker, a biophysicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the work. The project is described today in Nature Biotechnology.

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2 Responses to From the “Genetics isn’t what we used to think” files

  1. So the rat muscles are simply reacting to the electrical stimulus? Like a severed hand still twitching?

  2. That seems to be the case. They (heart muscle cells) are doing what they were (dare I say it?) designed to do, and that is to react in the presence of an electric field. I didn’t notice in the article if the electric field oscillated between frequencies, or if they simple modulated the field between off and on. I would imagine that it was modulated, so as to achieve the “pulsing” of the muscle.

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