Recently, scientists invented something productive. A process that will turn spinach leaves into farms for functioning human heart cells. That means now we don’t need to resort to exotic materials to develop heart cells.

The team started by pumping a detergent solution through the spinach, stripping it of its plant cells and turning it into a ghostly shell made mostly of cellulose. After that, they cultured heart cells on the remaining structure, sending both fluids and microscopic beads through the vegetable’s now-empty veins in order to feed the new cells.

Existing approaches of generating heart cells aren’t good at replicating the extremely complex network of veins needed to grow cells. New discovery is safer and potentially ideal bed for growing heart tissue.

As is often the case with this kind of research, it’ll be a long while before this method is ready for practical use. If it pans out, though, it could lead to an affordable and eco-friendly of growing replacement tissue for heart attack patients. You could potentially apply this to other body replacements, too — the researchers suggest that wood’s structure might be helpful for generating bone. They’ve already applied this method to parsley, peanut hairy roots and sweet wormwood, so it’s more a question of finding use cases than overcoming technical hurdles.

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