On the whole Artificial Jellyfish Thing...

I wish to make two things clear.

Today's announcement that a group of researchers have created an artificial jellyfish is overstating things a bit. It's rat muscles in silicone that have no way of digesting food, not even the simple nerve clusters and sensing organs a real jellyfish has, and cannot survive on it's own.

Even though this thing isn't actually 'life', the concept is still incredibly cool. These guys went out not to make an easy-bake Cthuhlu just in time for the Mayan 2012 throwdown but instead were looking into organ repair. From that perspective this is a success. Growing muscles on a framework material and able to dictate a new rhythm (that they can control) is in my mind the first steps into an organic artificial heart.

Think about that for a second. Sure there's going to be years and years of testing and refinement and work to do here but one of the biggest problems with heart transplants, other than the fact you have to wait for somebody else to die to get one... and the incredibly limited supply compared to demand, is the fact that you get a replacement put in you're put on immune-suppressants for the rest of your life and there's always the chance that at any time your body can up and decide it doesn't like the new organ and will sit and reject it (which tends to kill you in the process.)

Now imagine in five or ten years we're able to sit and grow from the ground up a new heart from the patiant's own body. Something that the body will think belongs there because it came from the person that needs it. No more long waits. Possibly still needing drugs, and probably, at least till we figure out how to properly replicate it, some kind of pace maker to keep the thing beating regularly. Ultimate goal of course would be to straight out build a new healthy heart that's impossible to tell from one nature made (possibly tweaked to be a bit stronger. IDK if tha'ts possible though.)

Exciting when Science Fact sits and does things that you grew up reading in Science Fiction.


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