Scientists Have Built the First Modular Body—a Living Being That Isn't Alive

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A Scientist Built the First 'Modular Body'francescoch - Getty Images
  • A biologist is using collected human cells to create a living organism powered by technology.

  • This modular unit offers independent modules that can connect and detach.

  • The experiment shows off future possibilities of switching out organs.

Biologist Cornelis Vlasman envisions the human body as a working biological LEGO system. And his clickable system of interchanging human organs is coming to life ... if you’re willing to define life fairly loosely.

In an experiment, Vlasman created OSCAR, a living, organic being formed from his own cells, albeit one that functions with the help of technology. And if having a pocket-sized human system crafted from organic material wasn’t interesting enough, OSCAR is fully modular—here’s where you can start thinking LEGO-like worlds—with each part interchangeable to create unique arrangements.

In the video, recently unearthed by Newsbreak’s Andrei Tapalaga, Vlasman shows off how his brain module, which is a fully electric device, connects to his lung module. The two immediately start interacting together. He adds in a kidney module, and then attaches two different limb modules that “start actuating the organism to move.” As the organic matter starts sliding across the table, it makes you start to worry what OSCAR is up to.

Vlasman says this prototype, with a blood stream and nerve signals transmitted throughout the connectors, changes the human body from a closed system to an open-source system.

“If an organ gets ill, you can easily replace it with a new one,” he says, while suggesting you could upgrade the body with an extra limb module, if desired. “The modular body will become alterable and adaptable to all kinds of situations.”

By collecting his own cells, Vlasman spent years constructing the living organism. The experiment shows off the power of stem cell research for morphing into human tissue all while highlighting the interaction between technology and the human body. For OSCAR to work, it takes far more than just cells, as the modules in Vlasman’s experiment require an electric brain to operate. Still, Vlasman believes this sets in motion a new wave of taking care of the human body. Instead of printing organs with the focus on identical copies for spare parts, he wants something different.

“We need to use this opportunity,” he says, “not to maintain, but redefine mankind.”

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