Quest to build a heart gets lift from jellyfish

In their quest to build a beating heart from scratch,
Harvard University researchers looked to the sea
for inspiration, building a tiny swimming “jellyfish”
out of rat heart cells and a thin, jellyfish-shaped
polymer film.
The real jellyfish, a simple aquatic creature
buffeted by ocean currents, may seem a world
away from the human heart, but researchers found
that the repetitive pulsations jellyfish use to swim
through salt water are similar to the way the heart
pumps blood through the human body.
“I do a lot of cardiac research, and . . . I started
looking at marine life forms, [thinking] maybe we
don’t understand the fundamental laws of muscular
pumps,” said Kevin Kit Parker, a professor of
bioengineering and applied physics at Harvard who
was one of the project’s leaders.
Parker had become frustrated with the lack of new
drugs for various heart problems and began to
wonder if one of the bottlenecks could be
incomplete understanding of how the heart really

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