How to build my own artificial jellyfish?
August 15, 2012 9:38 PM   Subscribe

I've been obsessing about the artificial jellyfish lately and I want to know how difficult it would be to make one myself.

I have a background in general and organic chemistry and I'm currently working on a university certificate program to do tech work in stem cell research. I'm about to start learning a lot about cell culture in petri dishes, and the electrical current part doesn't seem too hard to deal with, but the key to the artificial jellyfish seems to be the rat heart cells grown on patterned PDMS. I don't know anything about this, except that it is a good medium for making stem cells differentiate. I also have no idea how you get a hold of rat heart cells.

So, what else am I missing? I do recognize that this would be a huge/expensive undertaking. I'm hoping I might be able to use university equipment. (City College of San Francisco) Oh, and since I'm in San Francisco, I'll probably wander down to the NoiseBridge hackerspace and see if they have any ideas.
posted by sunnichka to Science & Nature (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can't just use cells straight from a rat heart. Virtually no normal cells will grow by themselves in a flask. They have to be "immortalized" first, which is not a trivial thing to do. You'll want to start with an established cell line already in use.

The best way to get a hold of a given cell line is to contact a scientist currently working with them. Cultured cells have to be "passed" regularly (essentially transferring a starter batch to a fresh flask/media). The excess from the old flask is normally just discarded, so giving some of it away is simple.

The only trouble there is transportation—if the cells have to moved any considerable distance, they'll need to be prepped and frozen first, ideally with liquid nitrogen, though you might be able to get away with dry ice (which would allow them to be mailed) if the cells are robust and the trip is overnight. Not all scientists will be nice enough to give away a cell line, especially to a stranger, but it's still your best bet.

University equipment is pretty much a must, because I doubt you can afford a sterile hood and incubator. Even culture media, flasks, etc will be expensive for anything more than a brief project.
posted by dephlogisticated at 12:12 PM on August 16, 2012

Acknowledging what dephologisticated has said, this artist learned how to grow hymens in petri dishes.

So, I wish you luck!
posted by jander03 at 11:43 PM on August 16, 2012

« Older "Treat him mean to keep him keen"?   |   Two Years Too Late Apology Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.