Harvard University researchers have bioengineered an artificial jellyfish using a sheet of silicone polymer and rat heart cells.
The constructs, termed ‘medusoids’, were designed with computer simulations and experiments to match key determinants of jellyfish propulsion and feeding performance by quantitatively mimicking structural design, stroke kinematics, and animal-fluid interactions. The combination of the engineering design algorithm with quantitative benchmarks of physiological performance suggests that our strategy is broadly applicable to reverse engineering of muscular organs or simple life forms that pump to survive.
“Morphologically, we’ve built a jellyfish,” Kit Parker, a Harvard biophysicist who led the research told Nature. “Functionally, we’ve built a jellyfish. Genetically, this thing is a rat.”