Engineering Genetics News

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

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

  1. 1
    humbled says:

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

  2. 2
    ciphertext says:

    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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