The human heart is a complex organ. It works tirelessly all throughout our lives to pump blood in our bodies. Needless to say that it is one of the most important organs in our bodies as it helps us to stay alive. It is also the organ that accounts for nearly 50 percent deaths across the world. Its complex physiology and functioning make it extremely difficult for the researchers to replicate its structure.

Over the years, the shortage of donors has forced the researchers to look for alternatives. Currently, the techniques being used involve using patient’s stem cells to grow an organ and using 3D printing. While the feasibility of the first is still being tested, the latter has failed to mimic the complex arterial structure inside the organ. But now scientists have found a way to built human heart tissue using a spinach leaf (no, we’re not kidding!).

Researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in the United States have developed a novel technique wherein they turned a spinach leaf into a beating heart tissue (isn’t it amazing!)

heart

Spinach leaf as heart (Photo: WPI)

In a series of experiments, the team stripped the spinach leaf of the plant cells by circulating a detergent solution similar in size to human blood cells through the spinach vasculature seeding the spinach veins with human cells that line blood vessels. When the plant cells were washed with the solution, what was left was a framework made of cellulose. Cellulose is biocompatible, meaning it’s not toxic to humans and has been used in a variety of regenerative medicines.

Apart from the spinach leaves, the team also used parsley and peanut hairy roots.

‘The team believes that while the spinach leaf might be better suited for cardiac tissue, the vascular columns of wood might be useful in bone engineering,’ WPI wrote in a release.