STATES CHRONICLE – Harvard’s Wyss Institute is now the home of an interesting new creation. Kit Parker and his team have created an artificial stingray. They believe that that studying the stingray will give them much of the information they need to create a fully functioning artificial heart.
How To Build A Stingray
The small stingray was built out of four different layers. The body is made out of a silicone substrate. The skeleton was built out of thin gold wire. The skin uses a different layer of an elastomeric sheath. Finally, the muscles have been assembled out of 200,000 genetically engineered rat cells.
Kit Parker chose gold for the skeleton because the metal is non-reactive and flexible. The spine and ribs of a stingray have a natural convexity which he intended to keep,
The artificial muscle tissue was attached to the ribs and cultivated around them. Parler used the cardiac muscles of a rat as the base of his artificially engineered muscle cells. He programmed the cells to contract when exposed to a certain wavelength of light, whereas the original version would do so when receiving electrical impulses from the brain.
Parker stated that the stingray could not survive or operate outside the laboratory as he did not add any form of immune system. The team feeds the bio-bot with energy-dense nutrients in the form of a sugary energy solution. The small bio-bot runs optimally.
Are Artificial Hearts Next On The Drawing Board?
The team designed and created the stingray because they believe data gathered from such a construct will help them create a better heart.
Parker wanted to create an animal with the ability to reflexively and instantly adapt and overcome changing conditions. A heart is able to continuously make split-second decisions and an artificial heart needs to have this feature as well.
The team believed that an artificial stingray was a solid starting point since an optimal design would ensure they could tackle on further issues in regards to fluid and motion.
Not everybody loves the project in an equal way, however. Several experts have declared their discomfort in regards to the ever-thinning ambiguous line between artificial constructs and living organisms.
If the Harvard Wyss Institute does develop an optimally-operating autonomous artificial heart thanks to the little stingray, any discomfort will most likely be replaced with awe.