Robotic fish can be powered to swim indefinitely with lab-grown human heart cells that rebuild themselves. When heart cells are lost from disease and inflammation, they do not grow back. This breakthrough shows it is possible to create human heart tissue in a lab that can beat independently, stay healthy, and become stronger.
These robots are constructed with paper, plastic, gelatin, and two strips of heart muscle cells along each side of the fish's body. When one strip of heart muscle contracts, the other stretches, leading the fish to swim through the fluid.
"The really interesting thing about these fish," said Kit Parker, a professor of bioengineering and applied physics at Harvard, "is how long they would swim and how fast they would swim in the dish." Replicating healthy human heart cells in a lab could mean incredible advancements for heart medicine in the future. Robots like these fish can assist scientists in testing the behavior and viability of lab-grown cells. This unlikely combination could even contribute to the possibility of heart transplants with lab-grown heart tissue.