We have shown that cardiomyocytes plated on a flexible string can communicate with each other, self organize, and emerge into a cell cluster that beats synchronously. This results in a swimming artificial flagellum. Its dynamics of well predicted by our theoretical model based on slender body hydrodynamics. This is the first demonstration of a small-scale swimmer that propels autonomously in a viscous environment.
Currently, we are addressing the following questions: (1) What is the underlying mechanism of synchrony between cardiomyocytes that are separated from one another? (2) Is swimming possible by muscle cells that can be actuated by light so that we can achieve controlled actuation? (3) Can we develop swimmers using neurons and muscle cells so that the swimmers may have intelligence and memory? Such swimmers may be used for targeted drug delivery in vivo.
Watch the videos: upper image.