Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Artificial Jellyfish Built From Silicone and Rat Cells

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the all-natural-ingredients-right-on-the-label dept.

Biotech 61

ananyo writes "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. The team now plans to build a medusoid using human heart cells. The researchers have filed a patent to use their design, or something similar, as a platform for testing drugs (abstract). 'You've got a heart drug?' says Kit Parker, a biophysicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the work. 'You let me put it on my jellyfish, and I'll tell you if it can improve the pumping.'" The video that accompanies the text is at once beautiful and creepy.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Offensive (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731475)

As a creationist, I find this offensive.

Re:Offensive (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731551)

But as a viewer of porn I see some potential.

Re:Offensive (1)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731715)

Yes, "those" are usually made of silicones too right? I for one welcome our new rat-cell-driven-silicone-enhanced-Amazonian-overlordesses!

Xena, you're out!

Re:Offensive (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40732063)

That's funny because as a sane human being, I find creationists offensive.

Other issues (2, Insightful)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731485)

Of course, you still need to test for side effects. Is a drug hepatotoxic?

Re:Other issues (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731793)

Well yes, thank, but no one was claiming this did away with all existing drug testing. This fills a gap: that is, what will actually happen if, all other things being equal, you introduced a drug to the cells of the heart? That answer can only currently be answered by human trials. This gives you data before you reach that stage.

Re:Other issues (0)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#40732255)

I suspect that's a rather small part of drug testing. Would a heart in a human react the same way?

Re:Other issues (3, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#40733219)

No way to know, but being able to observe "drug in large doses causes immediate cessation of pumping" would be a pretty important thing to find out - animal models have had some fairly notable failures when transferred to humans. [wikipedia.org]

Being able to stick drugs in a model organism based on human tissue would be a huge development.

First steps - this *IS* useful (3, Insightful)

DrYak (748999) | more than 2 years ago | (#40734591)

It's a small part, but it's an important one. You need to check if a potential drug can make the muscle cell work differently (mostly for drugs targeting heart cells: pump stronger).
A human heart could react in a different way. But on the other hand, this jelly fish would have a better reaction than a simple isolated cell on a petri dish.
The petri dish cell is mostly only useful to test for basic molecular response (does the ion flux increase across the cell-wall transporter when the drug is bound to it ?)
With platform like the jelly fish you can also test the effect - like cell contraction.

Re:Other issues (2)

camperslo (704715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731889)

Guard the beaches and power plants? If electric fields control their motion, they may be swimming/marching around soon. They'll build a secret base out of floating tsunami debris.

I wonder what they'll do when high on drugs? I think there might be some student-movie plot material in the digital jellyfish border patrol.

Re:Other issues (2)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#40732395)

Guarding power stations isn't an insane idea - Torness near Edinburgh was shut down because of a jellyfish swarm blocking the water intakes last year.

Why? (-1, Troll)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731519)

Why do we need artificial jellyfish? Its not like theres a shortage of real ones. In fact I seem to remember there are areas of ocean that have been taken over by them (due to climate change, pollution, overfishing or something.

Re:Why? (5, Insightful)

jehan60188 (2535020) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731599)

the artificial jellyfish will (eventually) be made of human heart cells, which will allow for different research vectors for heart medicine

Re:Why? (0)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731895)

Yeah sure it will. Sounds more practical than replacing human hearts with jellyfish cells, but only slightly.

Re:Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731633)

Turn in your nerd card at the front desk. NOW.

Re:Why? (4, Interesting)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731937)

Why not?

This isn't about making artificial jellyfish, it's about creating new organisms made out of both organic and inorganic material. Regardless of use, I think this is rather awesome.

Re:Why? (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40732911)

It's far from a new organism. So far it's not much different from a frog corpse that moves because it's being zapped.

I doubt it self repairs itself (e.g. if you destroy one part, the other cells around will reproduce and rebuild what you destroyed). When the cells somehow help rebuild the new entity, then it is a new multicellular organism. When we've figured out how the cells figure out what and where to build, and control that, then we'll have made a lot of progress.

Even some single cells can repair themselves.

Re:Why? (1)

InspectorGadget1964 (2439148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40733131)

Real jellyfish are not made of heart cells, therefore any heart drug testing on them would be absurd....

Overthinking it? (4, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731523)

'You've got a heart drug?' says Kit Parker, a biophysicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the work. 'You let me put it on my jellyfish, and I'll tell you if it can improve the pumping.'"

Couldn't they, I dunno, just put it in a rat?

Re:Overthinking it? (4, Informative)

ananyo (2519492) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731611)

They'll do that too. This just lets you see one important aspect of the drug's activity really clearly and let's you get a little quantitative about the effects too. Admittedly, the really cool thing isn't the application but that they've built something that moves like a jellyfish when you apply an electric field across it in water.

Re:Overthinking it? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731757)

something that moves like a jellyfish when you apply an electric field across it in water

Wonder what the approval process is like to get this into toy stores...

Re:Overthinking it? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731673)

"You let me put it on my jellyfish, and I'll tell you if it can improve the pumping.'"

Couldn't they, I dunno, just put it in a rat?"

If they are in the rat-heart-disease-curing business, sure.
This will have _human_ cells.

Re:Overthinking it? (3, Informative)

mbunch5 (548430) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731811)

Couldn't they, I dunno, just put it in a rat?

He was talking about the next phase Medusoid, which he plans to make with human heart tissue. You didn't RTFA, did you?

Re:Overthinking it? (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731989)

Technically, that was in the summary.

Re:Overthinking it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40735143)

Think of this as unit testing the drug before exposing it to something with more uncontrolled variables like a full-blown rat (or human as the plan is to use human heart cells).

well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731553)

big whoop. If I put a flower shaped bit of cloth on a string and jerk it around is that an artificial jellyfish too?

Re:well (2)

ananyo (2519492) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731637)

Yes. In an extraordinarily limited and uninteresting way.

God says... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731555)

Talk, Mr. God... please?

C:\Text\YANKEE.TXT

racious and pure and charitable, of a blameless life and
character, insomuch that in these regards was she peer of the
best lady in the land."

"That will do. Stand down." He called up the competing lordling
again, and asked: "What was the rank and condition of the
great-grandmother who conferred British nobility upon your
great house?"

"She was a king's leman and did climb to that splendid eminence
by her own unholpen merit from the sewer where she was born."

"Ah, this, indeed, is true nob

Re:God says... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731699)

Haven't you noticed? God is always on the side of whoever has the biggest army.

Improper Taxonomy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731565)

This is called a "metroid", not a "medusoid".

Re:Improper Taxonomy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731823)

Dalek [wikipedia.org] - EXTERMINATE!

Re:Improper Taxonomy (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731861)

That must have been one desperate dalek. They are helpless outside of their travel machines, and no sane dalek would never leave one willingly except for medical attention or machine repair - which, to a dalek, are the same thing.

Re:Improper Taxonomy (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#40733299)

Came here to post this. Submitter got his spelling all wrong.

Oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731625)

I, for one, welcome our new jellyfish overlords

Hmmmmmm (3, Informative)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731629)

I wonder how they taste fried........

Re:Hmmmmmm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731635)

Tastes like a rubber chicken...

Re:Hmmmmmm (2)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#40732531)

I wonder how they taste fried........

Tastes like Venice beach boobs.

Uh oh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731703)

Someone better start work on an Ice Beam. They tried to trick us by naming it Medusoid, but everyone knows where they are going with this.

Metroids.

Hollywood stars secrets revealed! (0)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731719)

There not real people! They're made of silicone and rats' hearts!

This will definitely revolutionize the plastic surgery industry. Watch their silicone boobs dance in electric fields!

This sounds like a National Enquirer title story to me.

Re:Hollywood stars secrets revealed! (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 2 years ago | (#40734671)

This will definitely revolutionize the plastic surgery industry. Watch their silicone boobs dance in electric fields!

Silicone boobs with mode select buttons? I for one welcome our new DOA physics enhanced overlords.

O brave new world, That has such people in't! (1)

Atmanman (1651259) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731749)

O brave new world, That has such people in't!

This is more than a heart-drug testing platform. (5, Interesting)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731819)

The jelly moves through the water. In the heart the water moves through the jelly. Same basic action. Imagine the same device being built using human cells, especially cells from the potential patient, this chimeric pump is a first step, perhaps a major step, in building a bioelectric replacement heart or even an auxiliary heart. They sussed that bioelectric pumps work by sending an electrochemical wave front through the tissue. In principal a jellyfish and a heart have a lot in common. Especially in some people.

Re:This is more than a heart-drug testing platform (3, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731875)

There has been some research already that offers a potential there: Growing cells onto a temporary scaffold. It's still many years away from being able to grow a heart in a lab from a patient's own cells, but the possibility is there. Simpler organs are already in use that way - trachea, bladder, some others - but hearts are much more difficult. You'd still need a pacemaker though, an artificially grown heart isn't going to contain the required nerves to keep everything contracting in sync without one.

Re:This is more than a heart-drug testing platform (4, Informative)

iroll (717924) | more than 2 years ago | (#40732221)

Except that the heart's natural pacemakers aren't nervous, but specialized muscle cells:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SA_node [wikipedia.org]

The nervous system is capable of speeding the main pacemaker, but that connection isn't necessary to keep the heart beating. And the pacemakers are redundant, set at different frequencies. The highest frequency pacemaker drives the rest; should it fail, the next slower one takes over.

Re:This is more than a heart-drug testing platform (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40734079)

Same thing though - that biology evolved to grow a tiny embryonic heart and slowly make it bigger. Forcing cells to grow into a new adult heart using a scaffold isn't going to get even those specialised muscle cells aren't going to end up in the right places.

The secret of cell differentiation (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 2 years ago | (#40735021)

is arguably the big problem of biology. As a student I had a two-hour discussion on an airplane on the subject with one of the professors at my school -- in 1973. The goal is nearer thirty years later, but far from being realized. The work with scaffolds and viruses is awesome. But until this problem is solved I agree that you would certainly have to stimulate your bio-synthetic heart with a pacemaker.

And, hey, I'm no spring chicken. Any biologists out there working on this better log off Slashdot and get back to work.

You heard me, bitches. I mean NOW!

Re:The secret of cell differentiation (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40736235)

I also understand that you need the scaffold to be somewhat flexible - those cells beat, and the movement is actually one of the signals determining differentiation. Not a huge problem for growing somewhat-misshapen rat hearts, but a serious issue for trying to replicate something as large as a human heart.

This is a prototype Metroid (1)

AragornSonOfArathorn (454526) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731837)

Better call Samus.

It's like seeing the future (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731899)

"The team now plans to build a medusoid using human heart cells."

Now I know what will be on SciFi Channel this Fall. On the bright side it'll be a break from all the ghost shows and wrestling.

At last... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40731907)

Finally! Science has found a way to bridge the gap between aquatic life outside of the vertebrates, and members of order rodentia. Soon, the seas will team with jellyrats, and sewers will overflow with rodentfish! A glorious day!

Dr. Ichthius will be very pleased. Yes. Very. Pleased.

Muahahahah!!!

(I decided to pass on the opportunity to write "Well, I for one WELCOME our new Jellyrat overlords...)

Naming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40732163)

Let me suggest the name of Rattus Memorexii for this new species.

The Medusoid Project (3, Funny)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40732237)

Ok, who wouldn't want to tell people that they worked on "The Medusoid Project?"

fir5t (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40733147)

it just 0Wnz.',

yuk (1)

Randy_Leatherbelly (1983850) | more than 2 years ago | (#40733149)

frikkin creepy ...

it needs something more... (1)

terminalhype (971547) | more than 2 years ago | (#40734087)

I'm waitin' for the Peanutbutter & Jelly fish...

ROFL (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40734157)

As a human being, this announcement is without a doubt extra creepy. However, as a scientist, it's fricking awesome! As a mad scientist, I'm giving it three thumbs up.

Takes a moment to get past the "we made an artificial jellyfish (WHY? Don't we have enough of those transparent, swimming, stinging masses of doom?)," and to get onto the real meat of the article: artificial hearts that can be used to test the effectiveness of various experimental drugs without putting human beings at risk.

For a moment there, I thought the DoD had thought of something truly terrifying.

That's fucked up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40735079)

This is super fucked up. I do NOT agree with killing or torturing animals for "science" experiments, and I especially disagree with using living human heart tissue. Where do they plan on getting this exactly?

I think it's barbaric and atrocious. We think we are so high and mighty and then we do shit like this... and then we are proud of it. Absolutely despicable.

Re:That's fucked up (0)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737725)

I hope your heart bursts, splattering everyone in your vicinity in blood.

Re:That's fucked up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40742429)

Use him [cbsnews.com]

PETA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40735261)

Can't wait to see what PETA does over this.

Big Jelly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40745525)

Anybody that is really interested in this subject should check out 'Big Jelly', a Bruce Sterling short story in the collection, A Good Old Fashioned Future
http://www.amazon.com/Good-Old-Fashioned-Future-Bruce-Sterling/dp/1857987101

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?