Study: Medicines use spinach leaves to produce artificial heart tissue

Leaves of spinach modified in the laboratory function as heart tissue
Spinach is a very nutritious vegetable that is said to have extensive positive effects on human health. Researchers have now found that spinach also has some physical properties that should delight all biomedical scientists. The structure of spinach leaves resembles blood vessels in a human heart. Experts have now for the first time succeeded in producing artificial heart tissue with the help of spinach.

Scientists at Massachusetts’s Worcester Polytechnic Institute found that spinach is suitable for producing artificial human heart tissue. The doctors released a press release on the results of their study.

Artificial heart tissue can be made from spinach leaves
Popeye already knew that spinach is a kind of super vegetable. The cranky sailor used the vegetables to develop superhuman strength through their consumption. Of course, spinach is unable to give people such powers. However, experts have now found that the structure of spinach leaves is suitable for making artificial heart tissue.

Global shortage of donor organs
There is a significant shortage of human donor organs around the world. This leads to a big and fatal problem. Dozens of people on donor lists die every day before they receive a suitable organ, the experts explain. The cultivation of compatible donor organs can help those affected and save their lives. However, in order for artificial organs to grow and function properly, they need blood vessels in order to receive vital nutrients and oxygen, the scientists explain.

Manufacture of donor organs in 3D printers so far without success
In order to meet the demand for human donor organs, researchers tried, for example, to manufacture artificial organs using so-called 3D printers. So far, however, it has not been possible to produce a perfect heart in this way, the researchers report.

Problems with artificial tissues
One of the big problems with artificially produced heart muscles is always the blood flow to all cells. The human heart muscle is quite fat. The current technology has so far not been able to produce artificial tissue that could replace a damaged heart in which the blood vessels provide life-giving oxygen, the authors explain. Artificially creating such a fine network of veins causes considerable difficulties for doctors.

Network of vessels on leaf resembles human heart tissue
Instead of making such tiny blood vessels themselves, the scientists used normal spinach leaves. After stripping the cell material from the tissue, a so-called protein matrix and protein structure remained. The experts used detergents for this process. The soap punctured plant cell membranes and washed away the empty cells. Intact leaf veins and cellulose have been preserved, say the experts. A herbal material that is compatible with mammalian tissue. The structure of the fine network of vessels in the leaf resembled human heart tissue after the treatment, the doctors add.

Cardiac muscle cells survived on leaves for three weeks
The vessels of the vegetables were then enriched with a liquid and molecules similar to our blood. As a next step, the researchers planted heart muscle cells in this unusual environment. It was amazing that these cells on the leaf could survive for three weeks. After a while, they even worked like a real human heart, the authors explain.

In the future, damaged heart tissue could be treated with the help of leaves
In the future, the study could be the basis for an artificial production of blood vessels. In the long term, this could then be used to use it as a graft in damaged heart tissue, the researchers say.

More research is needed
However, the scientists must first ensure that such plant frameworks are not rejected by those affected. Further research could make it possible to create a greater thickness in the future by stacking leaves, the authors say. In this way, we can possibly achieve a thickness that resembles a human heart wall, the researchers add. (as)

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Video: Spinach to hearts: Leafy vegetable inspires new way to generate heart tissue - Science Nation (December 2021).