Researchers at the University of Harvard created an autonomously swimming biohybrid fish from heart cells. The news was made public through a scientific article published by science last week. The objective, according to Kevin Kit Parkerprofessor of bioengineering and applied physics at Harvard, is to discover an optimal way to build muscle pumps.
According to the abstract of the article, “Biohybrid systems were developed to better understand the design principles and coordination mechanisms of biological systems”. So the researchers recreated contraction and relaxation movements in a muscle bilayer construct, in which each contraction would occur in response to the stretching of antagonistic muscles.
In this way, it was possible to build a cyborg fish that can move and swim in a self-sustaining way. Below you can see the story of Kevin Kit Parker and other researchers, published on the channel Disease Biophysics Groupabout the study.
Parker reports that the initial idea came when visiting an aquarium with her daughter. Upon seeing the jellyfish, the scientist soon associated the animal’s movement with the contractions of a heart. From that, the group of researchers used the cells of mice to rebuild the jellyfish and they were successful in this.
The next step would be to look for a more complex structure to reproduce. According to him, again on a visit to the New England Aquariumin Boston, after her daughter was startled by a sudden movement of a stingray, Parker figured out what the next step would be. And again, they were able to replicate the wavy movements of a stingray.
After the previous successes, the enterprise was, finally, the cyborg fish. The researchers then matured stem cells and made them capable of fluid movement. The fish was developed from a zebrafish model, which uses a pacemaker called a G-Node, created by engineers. This device sends out the first impulse and after that, the fish were able to swim on their own for almost five months.
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Source: BGR, science, Disease Biophysics Group