Man-made medusas could be life saver - FOX 13 News

Man-made medusas could be life saver

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

They dance through water, pulsing effortlessly, but jellyfish appear to be more than just a natural wonder.   

Jellyfish are inspiring new medical treatments that could possibly save your life.

They have survived underwater hundreds of millions of years.  They are simple in structure, and don't have brains or hearts.  Now, they're being replicated in the lab.

Researchers at Harvard and Cal Tech University built a free-swimming, artificial jellyfish.

"What we were able to do is to replace jellyfish muscle with muscle from a heart of a rat," explains John Dabiri, Ph.D., of Cal Tech University.  "We were able to replace the jelly, if you will, in a jellyfish with a silicone rubber substance."

When the artificial Jelly Fish was electronically charged, it pulsed through the water just like the real ones.

"The big picture for this research is to develop new therapies that are going to use biological components," Dabiri said. "Instead of artificial heart valves made out of aluminum or plastic, they would be built out of your own biological material. Your heart cells, your tissue. That makes it more biocompatible and potentially longer lived."

It's thought these new advances could reduce the risk of complications, and make recovery quicker for patients.   But Bay area heart specialists see these man-made medusas having a great purpose.

"You would think they wouldn't be thinking about heart valves, they'd be thinking about artificial heart, as a pumping mechanism, which probably where part of this will go," Dr. Charles Lamber of Florida Hospital's Pepin Heart Insititute said.

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