Team of scientists repurpose living cells into entirely new life form called xenobots.

  • The new creatures were designed on the Deep Green supercomputer cluster at University of Vermont’s Vermont Advanced Computing Core, then assembled and tested by biologists at Tufts University.
  • The computer went through hundreds of potential designs, keeping the best for study and throwing out those with fatal flaws.
  • Stem cells scraped from African frog embryos were separated into single cells and left to incubate.
  • With help from microsurgeon Douglas Blackiston, the cells were then cut using a tiny electrode, and joined under a microscope.
  • “The skin cells formed a more passive architecture, while the once-random contractions of heart muscle cells were put to work creating ordered forward motion as guided by the computer’s design, and aided by spontaneous self-organizing patterns—allowing the robots to move on their own.”
  • In their study, the team wrote, “this study, for the first time ever, designs completely biological machines from the ground up”.