by Brian Thomas, M.S.
Many jellyfish are transparent, and they have seemingly simple movements and few visible interacting parts. They should, therefore, be easy to synthesize with man-made parts, but that’s not what bioengineers discovered when they recently built a jellyfish mimic from rat heart cells attached to a silicone frame.
A team of Unites States collaborators produced a structure that, when energized by an external electrical shock, flexed and moved like a jellyfish in a water tank. Nature News posted a video showing their construct in motion.1
Just what hurdles did the research team overcome in order to achieve their modest results?
The bioengineers used “a systematic design strategy to reverse engineer a muscular pump,” according to the technical report in Nature Biotechnology. They also wrote, “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.”2
Jellyfish may not be so simple after all….
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