The race is on for scientists to create new organs in the lab. Anatomical, structural “dry” body parts have been successfully created and used in patients such as tracheae (windpipes) and outer ears. However for a researcher to replicate a “juicy” organ created so masterfully from nature has been difficult. Looks like scientists are now turning TO nature to make this happen.
(Image Credit: IrKiev/Depositphotos)
Researchers from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Arkansas State University-Jonesboro in their attempt to create an artificial heart, found a way to circumvent the difficult process of creating a circulatory network by using SPINACH. Plants have “vascular bundles” that transport water and nutrients throughout the plant using their xylem (unidirectional) and phloem (bidirectional).
According to WPI: In a series of experiments, the team cultured beating human heart cells on spinach leaves that were stripped of plant cells. They flowed fluids and microbeads similar in size to human blood cells through the spinach vasculature, and they seeded the spinach veins with human cells that line blood vessels.
The authors stated, “The development of decellularized plants for scaffolding opens up the potential for a new branch of science that investigates the mimicry between plant and animal.”
It was able to be perfused with a blood product. The end result looked like this:
This new “tissue” can make layers of “heart tissue” that can be used to replace damaged heart tissue from a heart attack.
This is just the beginning. Using nature to scaffold vascular networks that we can seed and recreate will allow us to make artificial “juicy” organs that need to sustain blood flow and transmit blood, nutrients and chemicals to the body in which they’re transplanted. Scientists “cool factor” just went up a few notches with this one…..