I would have thought that the realm of reverse engineering was limited to just hardware, but here we are with word that rat cells were actually used in the reverse-engineering process to create an artificial life form (a jellyfish) which will then be used to test drugs. Achieved thanks to the brilliance of a group of bioengineers, this artificial jellyfish relied on silicone and muscle cells from a rat’s heart. Called a medusoid, this synthetic creature resembles a flower with eight petals. Whenever it is placed in an electric field, it will pulse and swim just like its living counterpart – albeit sans any nasty sting, I suppose.
Kit Parker, a biophysicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said, “Morphologically, we’ve built a jellyfish. Functionally, we’ve built a jellyfish. Genetically, this thing is a rat.” You don’t say? It would be cool to see how future developments will unfold – in fact, Parker and his team already has plans to construct a medusoid that relies on human heart cells. Hopefully it will help usher in a new age of medical research.