Hearts grown on spinach leaves. Crazy?

When I found the short article just by chance I first had doubts about its earnestness; but it was on MailOnline. I also checked for its www in the address bar of the browser and it showed indeed: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4419334/Tiny-sensor-placed-skin-test-diabetes.html

So, what happened?

Scientists at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, US . stripped the leaves of spinach cells, leaving only the leaf vein. The nude vein, made essentially of cellulose – a material compatible with human body – became thus kind of network of microchannels.

Then the researchers bathed the remaining plant frame in live human heart muscle cells that started growing on the fine spinach veins. Actually they replaced the original spinach cells by human cells. Using the branching of veins, the researcher “pumped” water and nutrients into the veins, that reached out the human heart cells and helped them to eventually develop into heart tissue around the vein. And the newly formed heart tissue (cardiomyocyte tissue) started…beating ”like” a heart:


In doing so, the researchers were motivated by the need to obtain something similar to tinny blood vessels. 3D-printed heart  3dhas been already created in lab, but a channel system (“blood vessels”) to feed the heart cells was missing.

With this, scientists aim at providing heart tissue to be transplanted into patients with damaged hearts following heart attack or who suffers from contractility problems of the heart.

I did not find out (not even dug to find out) why the spinach. Either because it was at hand in a nearby market, or a team member is fan of Popeye the Sailor Man?spinach

Squeezed between height and weight

Height and weight increased progressively, particularly during the 19th century.41396B2A00000578-4583708-image-a-10_1496912525521

Beginning of the 20th century, studies of poor children indicated that dietary energy supplementation (adding sugar and fat to the usual diet) improved growth, which became an important approach to reduce malnutrition (how this approach would sound today?).As the human race began to reach its genetic potential for longitudinal growth, it began to gain proportionally more weight than height, with the resulting increase in average BMI (body-mass index) – so it is during the first decades of 20th century when we “began” to become obese. As this trend was kept, around the year 2000, for the first time in human evolution the number of adults with excess weight surpassed the number of those underweight. (Benjamin Caballero: The Global Epidemic of Obesity: An Overview, 2007)plus-size-fat-celebrities-david-lopera-12-1


imagesMost of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight. Spite of what one can believe, obesity hits both developed and developing countries. Thus, highest rates were recorded in 2015 in the USA, Libya and Saudi Arabia, followed by Canada, Mexico, Argentina, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Australia – to mention just a few. “Slimmest” countries are apparently China, India, most of African countries…

Obesity in short

Worldwide obesity has more than doubled in adults and more than tripled in children since 1980.

In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older (say 39%), were overweight. Of these over 600 million were obese (say 13% of adults).

41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2014.

In 1940 the world population counted 2 billion, so try to figure out that all people at that time, adults and children, civilian or soldiers in or about to be engaged in war, were overweight or obese…

In other words, and let’s say in the USA, we can see more than one in three adults and one in six children obese, leading Americans to declare obesity as a top national health concern.

NB: World Health Organizations (WHO) defines these diseases based on body-mass index (BMI) which is a body-for-height measure. Thus, if a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters is greater than or equal to 25, we are talking about overweight, while if this measure is greater than or equal to 30 – it is about obesity (as per WHO).download (4)