Heart-pounding vegetables? Heart tissue grown on spinach may lead to organ regeneration

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Picture of a spinach leaf after it successfully demonstrated red dye could be pumped through its veins, simulating the blood, oxygen and nutrients human heart tissue needs to grow. Credit: Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

One of the biggest obstacles in the field of organ regeneration is scaling up production from tiny samples in a petri dish to full-fledged organs…Current bioengineering methods, such as advanced 3D-printing techniques, aren’t refined enough to build the complex, branching network of capillaries that can narrow to the width of a single blood cell.

But Glenn Gaudette, a biomedical engineer at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and colleagues turned to another source for circulatory scaffolding: spinach leaves.

Researchers used a process called decellularization to strip plant cells from the spinach using detergent, which left behind the scaffolding of its vascular channels. Then, researchers embedded human heart cells to the framework where they grew and started pumping.

In addition to their successes with spinach leaves, researchers also performed the same renovation with parsley, wormwood and peanut roots, all of which produced viable tissue specimens. Researchers are confident that this technique could one day be used to grow healthy human organs or regenerate damaged body tissue.

[The study can be found here.]

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: How to Turn a Spinach Leaf into Beating Heart Tissue

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia.

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