Scientists developed a human heart tissue by using some spinach leaves. Spinach can grow a network of veins which thread through its leaves similarly to the way in which blood vessels spread through a human heart. Researchers at Massachusetts’ Worcester Polytechnic Institute used spinach leaves to offer a new meaning to the vegetable which keeps the heart healthy.
- Researchers managed to develop a human heart tissue by only using spinach leaves.
- Gershlak and Gaudette were the scientists which came up with this idea.
- They stripped spinach leaves of cells until they became transparent.
The new study was recently published in the Biomaterials journal. It revealed that researchers stripped spinach leaves of their cells. In this way, the thin leaf became transparent. Scientists initialized the gaps which the spinach cells left behind with human heart tissue. In clusters, heart cells can beat for more than three weeks in this strange environment.
Joshua Gershlak and Glenn Gaudette, two WPI bioengineers, first came up with this idea over lunch, when eating spinach. They started brainstorming new methods to confront a deadly medical issue, namely the lack of donor organs. Statistics indicate that 24 out of 100,000 people on the donor list die every day while waiting for an organ transplant.
To try and help as many patients as possible, scientists tried to design artificial organs by using 3D printed tissue. Nevertheless, no doctor was able to print a perfectly functional heart which could be utilized for transplants. Gaudette, a professor of biomedical engineering at WPI stated that one of the most significant issues when developing a heart muscle is getting blood flow to all the cells.
He stated that the muscle of the heart is usually very thick. The technology which is used today in hospitals and research centers is not powerful enough to construct such a dense tissue good enough to replace a damaged heart. The muscle needs to allow the small and thin blood vessels to deliver oxygen.
Instead of building small blood vessels, researchers though about using parts of nature to follow their plan. Firstly, specialists removed the spinach leaves’ cells. Gerschlak, a WPI graduate student in Gaudette’s lab, state that they first used detergent to erase the cellular material of the tissue. Thus, they left behind the use protein matrix and structure. After washing away the color, what was left was cellulose and the intact leaf veins which were used to develop human heart tissue.
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