BBC Earth (Asia) - - Update -

This takes grow­ing your own to a new level: re­searchers in the US have cre­ated beat­ing hu­man heart cells us­ing spinach leaves. The tech­nique could even­tu­ally al­low re­searchers to use spinach leaves to grow lay­ers of healthy car­diac mus­cle to treat heart at­tack pa­tients.

“We have a lot more work to do, but so far this is very promis­ing,” said study co-au­thor Glenn Gaudette. “Adapt­ing abun­dant plants that farm­ers have been cul­ti­vat­ing for thou­sands of years for use in tis­sue en­gi­neer­ing could solve a host of prob­lems lim­it­ing the field.”

The team re­moved the plant cells from spinach leaves by flow­ing a de­ter­gent so­lu­tion through the veins, leav­ing be­hind a frame­work made mostly of cel­lu­lose. They then pumped flu­ids and mi­crobeads sim­i­lar in size to hu­man blood cells through the spinach veins, and seeded them with the hu­man cells found in blood ves­sels.

“I’d done de­cel­lu­lar­i­sa­tion work on hu­man hearts be­fore, and when I looked at the spinach leaf its stem re­minded me of an aorta,” said study co-au­thor Joshua Ger­sh­lak. “We weren’t sure it would work, but it turned out to be pretty easy and repli­ca­ble. It’s work­ing in many other plants.”

The re­searchers are now work­ing on re­fin­ing the tech­nique and us­ing it to cre­ate more com­plex struc­tures.

Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve – wear it in a salad in­stead

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