Spinach is one of the most well-known superfoods in the world. The leafy green vegetable is a staple of a healthy diet for many. Well now it seems, spinach is even more powerful than we thought. Scientists have now figured out a way to use spinach to build a human heart.
A study, published this month by the journal Biomaterials, shows us that spinach can be used to build a vascular system. Essentially, tissue engineering has long been the obstacle when it comes to building an organ such as a human heart. Now it seems spinach has helped to clear that obstacle. And that could be huge for medical science.
“The main limiting factor for tissue engineering … is the lack of a vascular network,” says study co-author Joshua Gershlak, a graduate student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts, in a video (below) describing the study. “Without that vascular network, you get a lot of tissue death.”
“Cellulose is biocompatible [and] has been used in a wide variety of regenerative medicine applications, such as cartilage tissue engineering, bone tissue engineering, and wound healing,” the authors write in their paper.
Eventually, people who have had heart attacks may well be able to get their tissues replaced using this science. Following heart attacks, tissues are usually damaged and this creates problems for returning the person to health.
“We have a lot more work to do, but so far this is very promising,” study co-author Glenn Gaudette, also of WPI, says in a press statement. “Adapting abundant plants that farmers have been cultivating for thousands of years for use in tissue engineering could solve a host of problems limiting the field.”