Recently a team of scientists built a school of robotic fish powered by human heart cells—a project that attempts to understand how to construct replacement hearts for those with cardiovascular diseases. The biohybrid fish—made from paper, plastic, gelatin and two strips of living heart muscle cells—can swim entirely on their own for more than three months, as movement causes the strips of cells to contract, creating a cycle of momentum. This success confirms the possibility of producing human heart tissue that beats indefinitely, suggesting that these cells can be used to repair a failing heart. “I really believe that there’s a common design scheme, there’s some fundamental laws of muscular pumps that are conserved from marine life forms to the human heart,” says a scientist on the team, Sung-Jin Park. He, alongside his teammates, were surprised to find the fish cells repaired themselves faster than a human’s while continuing to increase in strength. Learn more about this at NPR.
Image courtesy of Michael Rosnach/Keel Yong Lee/Sung-Jin Park/Kevin Kit Parker