The “creature” made the cover of Science magazine this week. This Skate is not an ordinary animal, it comes out all right of the laboratory of Biophysics at Harvard University. It is not a clone or even a GM line, but a biohybride being, created from scratch by researchers. If it takes the form of the line, this line weighs only 10 grams and measures only 16 mm in length. It’s a genuine cyborg, a miniature robot made of heart cells of rats and synthetic components. The first of this new genre to both animal and robotics.
The biohybrid ray, a distant heir to the “Hybrot”
The idea of creating cyborgs scratch using living cells and electronic machines is not new. Professor Warwick of the University of Reading had already creates robots controlled by neurons of rats in 2008, continuing the research of Professor Potter of the Institute of technology of Georgia. The early American researcher had created the “Hybrot”, a robot guided by rat neurons interfaced with an electronic chip.
With their biohybride skates, the Harvard researchers are them also interested in the interaction between biological and electronic cells, but rather than placing an embryo’s biological brain in a robot, they imagined hybrid muscles. Their Skate does not no nervous or even electronic control system. It just follows a light but it moves by waving his body as would a biological line. His body consists of a gold skeleton around which a polymer displays the line shape. In the 200 000 cells of rat cardiomyocytes genetically modified to respond to light. Sarcomere (arrangement of proteins) allows precise positioning of the muscle fibres which allows their contraction to generate wave motion that allows the line to advance. More impressive, if the light comes from the left or the right, skate will turn to it. Finally, the cells feed directly from glucose that must be present in the liquid should evolve the skate.
Difficult to see direct applications of a biohybride being also specialized, however, researchers refer to the creation of artificial organs incorporating some of these principles of operation. Before you see the first semi-biologiques organs / upgrade, they promise other artificial creatures. What will be their next model?
Translation : Bing Translator
“Heartmaker’s next step: a ray ‘biohybrid’”, Science, July 8, 2016
“Un robot contrôlé par des neurones de rat”, Automates Intelligents, August 17, 2008
“Computing Rat-Brained Robot”, Technology Review, December 18, 2002