Seriously, can plants be used to make human body parts? That question may not be that far-fetched following the breakthrough scientists have made.

The trouble for many years has been a lack of a vascular network in the tissues they’ve been trying to create. Through 3D printing, they have been able to make large-scale human tissue, but not form the delicate blood vessels that are absolutely vital to keeping that tissue alive.

These “skin grafts” end up being useless in large scale situations that require an expansive area to be grafted together. You end up with a lot of dead tissue without these vast veiny networks.

Then an exciting development was made. Spinach leaves and many other plants have the vascular network required to keep tissue alive. They use this network to transport water and nutrients to their own plant cells.

What if there was a way you could integrate the basic (or rather, not so basic) structures that these leaves are built on with human cells? What would happen if you did this? The answer is actually really fascinating!

By decellularizing the leaves, scientists are able to break away the plant cells, leaving the clear cellulose structure behind. Now the leaves resemble something you would expect to see in a coloring book, waiting to be colored in neatly inside the lines. That part comes soon.

Living human cells were then added to these frames. Incredibly, the human cells grew and formed around the spinach veins creating a mini “heart”.

Cellulose is biocompatible and has been used for years in a great variety of medicinal applications such as cartilage tissue engineering, bone tissue engineering, and the healing of wounds.

The scientists then pumped died liquids through the tiny veins to make sure that blood would be able to go through this vascular network. This is the coloring in the lines part.

Indeed, it worked! Making new and exciting propositions possible, including replacing damaged heart tissue from victims of heart attacks and other cardiac issues.

Though they have a very long way to go, this is a very promising discovery. Other plants could be used in the same way to create a variety of different tissues in the body. It is possible that the cells in wood could be swapped around to help fix broken bones!

This breakthrough greatly benefited a field that has been limited to tissue development. Scientists are also excited because thousands of years have gone into the research and development of plants making that part already well known and documented.

Now they can combine horticulture with medical research and make huge strides.

I know this isn’t the kind of “hero story” you would expect, but if you think about it if these progressions benefit and save lives, isn’t it heroic to humanity?

Do you agree? Let us know what you think in the comments below and SHARE this post!