Scientists have found that the luminous part of a jellyfish can be helpful in the search for new heart disease treatments.
A team from the Technical University of Munich extracted a fluorescent protein from jellyfish and used it to build biological sensors, which they inserted into lab-grown heart cells.
When a specific wavelength of light hits the heart cells with added sensors, they produce light, which can tell the researchers a lot about the electrical activity of the cells they’re looking at.
In particular, it shows the different amounts of potential energy during the cyclic rhythm of the heart. This information reveals the type of cell that’s selected, such as heartbeat-maintaining pacemaker cells or muscular wall cells.
Once they have this information, researchers can see heart disorders such as arrhythmia on a miniature scale, to better understand what is causing abnormalities.
“In the future, we can use our method not only in the laboratory in order to study disease,” said Dr Daniel Sinnecker, a cardiologist who worked on the study. “The fact that we can investigate large numbers of cells means that we can also use this method for investigation of drugs, in which, for example, we can investigate whether a product has a negative effect on heart muscle.”
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