An amazing experiment by a team of scientists has found it’s possible to grow beating human heart cells on a spinach leaf.
The experiment has the potential to solve a serious limitation facing researchers attempting to grow human organs in laboratories – making functioning blood vessels.
The scientists found that spinach leaves aren’t just for eating as they have a vascular system similar to humans’.
The team of researchers stripped the leaf of its plant using detergent, turning the leaf translucent and leaving behind the structure that keeps the cells in place.
They then seeded it with human heart muscle and within five days the leaf muscle started to beat.
It’s another example of “bio-inspired” engineering, where scientists look to designs in nature for insight on solving problems in the lab.
While treatments based on this experiment are likely years away, researchers note in their study that more than “100,000 patients can be found on the donor waiting list at any given time”.
The team, made up of researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the University of Wisconsin, Arkansas State University, and the University of Nova Gorica in Slovenia, hope the research can eventually help treat heart patients.
They said the experiment is “very promising”.