Tuesday 26 September 2017

This footage of spinach leaves being converted to human heart tissue brings a whole new meaning to the term 'superfood'

Spinach
Spinach
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Spinach has long been filed under the 'superfood' category - even if it doesn't necessarily give you muscles like Popeye.

But the latest scientific development using the popular vegetable takes the term to another level.

Researchers at Massachusetts' Worchester Polytechnic Institute have discovered exciting physical properties in spinach that act similar to blood vessels in a human heart.

Documented in the journal Biomaterials, the tissue engineers stripped the green leaves of their cells and the spinach turned translucent.

The gaps that were left behind by the plant cells were then seeded with human heart tissue - which actually beat for three weeks in this environment.

The project was the brainchild of WPI bioengineers Glenn Gaudette and Joshua Gershlak who were attempting to tackle the crisis of lack of donor organs.

Existing technology is unable to construct tissue dense enough to replace a damaged heart in addition to allowing for the tiny blood vessels needed to deliver life-giving oxygen.

“One of the big problems in engineering heart muscle is getting blood flow to all of the cells,” Gaudette, a professor of biomedical engineering at WPI, told The Washington Post. “Heart muscle is pretty thick.”

The video of their efforts have been documented here - and the results are amazing.

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