Aleteia

Spinach leaves turned into living heart tissue

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This research should be sponsored by Popeye. But it was kind of promised to us, too…

Along each bank of the river every kind of fruit tree will grow; their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fresh fruit because the waters of the river flow out from the sanctuary. Their fruit is used for food, and their leaves for healing.” — Ezekiel 47:12

Researchers from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), University of Wisconsin-Madison and Arkansas State University-Jonesboro are conducting groundbreaking studies focused on seeding living human heart cells onto spinach leaves. The process would turn spinach leaves into living heart tissue.

So far, they have been met with very encouraging results:

The team grew beating heart tissue on spinach leaves that were stripped of plant cells in a process called decellularization. Researchers used a detergent, which is a water-based cleansing solution that binds with dirt and other impurities to wash the cells away.

When the plant cells were gone, researchers were left with a framework made primarily of cellulose, the main chemical that forms the structure of plants. Cellulose has also been used in cartilage and bone engineering, as well as wound healing.

In the experiments, the researchers were able to line the veins of spinach leaves with the same cells that line a human’s blood vessels. Following that, they were able to send fluids and tiny microbeads about the same size as human blood cells through the revamped veining.

What an incredible concept! Imagine a world where transplant lists are emptied by spinach hearts. We hope that the rest of their research goes smoothly so that these marvelous ideas can be put into practice.

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