Scientists at Universities of Vermont, Tufts, and Harvard discovered a new form of biological reproduction and created self-replicating living robots. They are made from stem cells of African clawed frog being computer-designed organisms. The name given to them is „xenobots.” Xenobots are less than a millimeter (0.04 inches) wide.They can move independently for about a week before running out of energy. The xenobots used “kinetic replication”, a process never been observed before at the scale of whole cells or organisms. The new type of biological reproduction different from any other known plant or animal species, according to a press release published on Monday by the Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. “Frogs have a way of reproducing that they normally use but when you … liberate (the cells) from the rest of the embryo and you give them a chance to figure out how to be in a new environment, not only do they figure out a new way to move, but they also figure out apparently a new way to reproduce.”
To create xenobots there’s no manipulation of genes involved. The researchers tested billions of body shape. “The shape is, in essence, the program. The shape influences how the xenobots behave to amplify this incredibly surprising process.” Xenobots will be used in the medical field but don’t yet have any practical applications. „That’s regenerative medicine, that’s the solution to traumatic injury, birth defects, cancer, and aging,” Michael Levin, Ph.D., a co-leader of the research, added. Other suggested applications may include things like collecting microplastics in the oceans or inspecting root systems. The studies are regulated by ethics experts. The research was partially funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.