Just when you thought the idea of eating salad could not get better, the researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts have converted a spinach leaf into a small beating human heart muscle, which might one day help doctors repair damaged organs. They swapped the leaf’s plant cells for human ones, successfully transforming the plant veins into a delicate blood vessel network.
The cellulose is biocompatible and can be used for a variety of regenerative medicines like wound healing, cartilage tissue engineering, and bone tissue engineering.
It means you could use something like this spinach leaf as a scaffold for delicate bodily tissues. A leaf may help deliver oxygen to damaged heart tissue, ensuring the new organ or regrown tissue that does not die after implantation.
So What next? Cauliflower lungs!
The team is working on building the human tissue built out of spinach leaves, which could be implanted into patients with damaged hearts, restoring blood flow to areas of the organ that have been ravaged by disease, trauma, or infection. This plant-made tissue would be a sort of patch surgically implanted onto a patient’s heart.
But we should not expect a vegetable transplant any time soon. There are still ongoing researches that can determine whether plant tissue can be successfully implanted in humans.
And spinach might not be the only vegetable which could one day fix damaged human organs. If a plant has a similar enough structure to a human organ, it could one day be used as a framework to support human tissue.
Broccoli and cauliflower, for example, have a three-dimensional structure similar to lungs!