Washington: A team led by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Harvard University have turned a solid element—silicon—and muscle cells into a freely swimming “jellyfish.”Their tissue-engineered jellyfish has been dubbed as Medusoid.“A big goal of our study was to advance tissue engineering,” said Janna Nawroth, a doctoral student in biology at Caltech and lead author of the study.“In many ways, it is still a very qualitative art, with people trying to copy a tissue or organ just based on what they think is important or what they see as the major components—without necessarily understanding if those components are relevant to the desired function or without analysing first how different materials could be used,” she noted.Because a particular function—swimming, say—doesn`t necessarily emerge just from copying every single element of a swimming organism into a design, “our idea,” she pointed out, “was that we would make jellyfish functions—swimming and creating feeding currents—as our target and then build a structure based on that information.”Jellyfish are believed to be the oldest multi-organ animals in the world, possibly existing on Earth for the past 500 million years. Because they use a muscle to pump their way through the water, their function—on a very basic level—is similar to that of a human heart, which makes the animal a good biological system to analyze for use in tissue engineering.
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