Spinach as Human Heart Tissue
Wondering how? Let us get into the latest research on Spinach being used as a human tissue. Spinach have some properties that led BIOMEDICAL ENGINEER to this particular research. The most important property of Spinach is that, it can create a network of veins to sew up through its leaves similar as the Blood Vessel in Human Heart.
These leafy veins allowed researchers at Massachusetts’s Worcester Polytechnic Institute to get indulged in making of a healthy-spinach-heart. The tissue engineers, as they reported recently in the journal Bio-materials, stripped green spinach leaves, off their cells, the spinach turned translucent. The scientists seeded the gaps that the plant cells left behind with human heart tissue. Heart cells, in clusters, beat for up to three weeks in this unusual environment.
The idea came over a lunch, maybe the Veggie Lunch, WPI bioengineers Glenn Gaudette and Joshua Gershlak began to brainstorm new ways to tackle a deadly medical problem: the lack of donor organs, more than 100,000 people on the donor list, nearly two dozen people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant.
To meet the demand, scientists have tried to create artificial organs through innovations such as 3-D-printing tissue. So far, however, no one has been able to print a perfect heart, one of the biggest 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.” Current technology cannot construct tissue dense enough to replace a damaged heart while also allowing for the tiny blood vessels needed to deliver life-giving oxygen.
Rather than creating minuscule blood vessels, the scientists decided to borrow from what nature already evolved. First, they removed the cells from spinach leaves purchased at a local market. “We use detergent — soaps — which strips away the cellular material of tissues,” said Gershlak, a WPI graduate student in Gaudette’s lab. “This leaves behind the protein matrix and structure.” The soap punctures the plant cell membranes and washes the deflated cells away.
Left behind was cellulose, a plant material known to be compatible with mammal tissue, as well as the intact leaf veins. The scientists seeded the cellulose matrix with cardiac muscle cells. After five days, the muscle cells began to beat.
Gershlak, Gaudette and their colleagues were the first, they said, to use the technique in an attempt to use plant veins. They poured tiny spheres through the spinach leaves, beads; 10 microns in diameter.
“If we stack decellularized leaves, can we create a large thickness,” Gaudette wondered, “more along the thickness of a human heart wall?”