Just when you think you’ve heard it all, science comes up with something exciting.
Currently, bioengineering techniques, such as 3D printing, are not advanced enough to reproduce a network of blood vessels that can perform tasks such as delivering oxygen and nutrients to tissue.
This is where spinach becomes involved.
A team of scientists have constructed a mini version of a beating heart muscle by using veins from spinach leaves. The scientists from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Arkansas State University-Jonesboro managed to link their research of human veins and capillaries with the vein structure of leaves.
The findings from this research, called Crossing kingdoms: Using decellularized plants as perfusable tissue engineering scaffolds, were recently published in the journal ‘Biomaterials’. The authors explained that in regards to plants and animals, “there are surprising similarities in their vascular network structures…”
These studies may eventually provide a means to repair and regenerate human tissue and organs, specifically growing healthy heart muscles for heart attack patients. It is expected that this technique will also be applicable to many plant species once the study is further explored.
I guess Popeye was right all along. Spinach really could grow muscles – just not in the way we thought it would!