Artificial Jellyfish Built from Rat Cells
The unprecedented rise in genetic vandalism has threatened the entire biosphere of planet Earth. Cows spliced with bumble bees. Fish spliced with mice. Who is man to believe that he can produce a ‘better’ configuration than what mother nature yields on her own?
Our disrespect to the natural order of things will ultimately serve as our undoing.
Grant J. Kidney
Scientific American — 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 inNature Biotechnology.
Parker’s lab works on creating artificial models of human heart tissues for regenerating organs and testing drugs, and the team built the medusoid as a way of understanding the “fundamental laws of muscular pumps”. It is an engineer’s approach to basic science: prove that you have identified the right principles by building something with them.