(WPRI) — Massachusetts researchers have found a new use for vegetables. The Worcester Polytechnic Institute is turning spinach leaves into human heart tissue.
A team of scientists have not only transformed the leafy vegetable into heart tissue, but they have also enabled the leaves to beat like a heart.
The researchers say the idea came to them one day over lunch. Scientists first used detergent to strip the spinach leaves of their cells, turning them translucent. Next, the team seeded the spinach veins with human heart tissue. After several days, the muscle cells began to beat. Red dye, instead of blood, was used during the process.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute Biomedical Engineering Professor Glenn Guadette said, “So what we’re trying to do is grow cardiac muscle in these leaves which then can be profused by a blood source by the veins in the leaf. So we can in theory sow those veins into native arteries in the heart.”
Scientists hope their research can one day help to treat heart attack patients.