Science & Technology
Scientists create artificial fish that swim using human heart cells
February 17, 2022 | 9 comments
Image Credit: Michael Rosnach, Keel Yong Lee, Sung-Jin Park, Kevin Kit Parker
The synthetic fish were able to swim around autonomously using the contractions of the muscle tissue.
The remarkable Frankenstein-esque fish were built by a team of scientists from Harvard University using paper, gelatin and two layers of human cardiac muscle tissue - one on each side.
The fish were able to glide through the water on their own without any additional source of external propulsion thanks to the stretching and contraction of the heart tissue.
A special node was added to act like a pacemaker and control the rhythm and frequency.
Incredibly, the fish continued to swim for 108 days - the equivalent of 308 million beats.
"It's a training exercise," said senior author and Harvard bioengineer Kit Parker.
"Ultimately, I want to build a heart for a sick kid."
"The really interesting thing about these fish, which we weren't expecting, is how long they would swim and how fast they would swim in the dish."
The experiment represents a significant step forward in the development of artificial hearts for transplant patients and could one day go on to help save countless lives.
According to Parker, the idea came to him when he spotted a jellyfish during a visit to an aquarium.
"I'm looking at it, and thinking, 'It pumps, it looks like a heart pump,'" he said.
"I'm thinking, 'I could build that damn thing.'"
Source: Smithsonian Magazine
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