The scientists from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA, successfully used spinach leaves to create functioning human heart tissue with networks of veins able to transport blood.
The researchers used green plant material of spinach to grow samples of tissue, as cellulose from plants is great material to use due to its compatibleness with living tissues, low price, and availability. To access the fine vascular structure of spinach, the scientists circulated a detergent solution through the leaves to wash the plant cells away. Then they seeded the leaf vascular structure with heart muscle cells, and within a few days, they saw that the heart cells started contract like they would in human tissue.
The scientists explain in their paper: “Plants and animals exploit fundamentally different approaches to transporting fluids, chemicals, and macromolecules, yet there are surprising similarities in their vascular network structure.”