Spinach tissue used as a scaffold for engineered human heart

Signal of change / Spinach tissue used as a scaffold for engineered human heart

By Anna Simpson / 07 Sep 2017
WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE

Scientists have used tissue taken from a spinach leaf to provide a supportive structure for vessels in an engineered human heart, enabling the blood to flow through a network of tiny plant-derived 'veins'. 

Creating resilient vascular networks is currently a limiting factor for organ and tissue engineering, says Joshua Gershlak, a graduate student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts who co-authored the study, published in Biomaterials. 

The plant cells were removed from the plant (a process called 'decellularization') to create a scaffold that could be used in human tissue.

So what?

New material structures are emerging from biomaterial engineering exploring the intersection of plant and human tissues. Some elements of plant tissue, such as cellulose, are 'biocompatible', and can therefore be used to repair damaged human tissue. 

Sources

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0142961217300856

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/human-heart-spinach-leaf-medicine-science/

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

Can you explain what the potential of this is for sustainability?

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