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Photosynthetic Heart

July 18, 2017

Photosynthetic bacteria may keep heart tissue oxygenated after a heart attack.



Making hearts photosynthetic. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Cyanobacteria are primitive photosynthetic microbes: powered by sunlight, they make sugars from carbon dioxide and water, and release oxygen. We inhale oxygen into our lungs, where our blood picks it up and carries it to our tissues. In the journal Science Advances, Stanford researcher Joseph Woo and his colleagues propose tr eating heart attack patients by skipping the breathing step.

JOSEPH WOO (Stanford University):

So we actually wondered whether or not you could use plant cells to try to provide oxygen to starving heart cells.


They injected the photosynthetic organisms into rat heart muscle, shined light on the cells, and found that the hearts took advantage of the flood of oxygen that resulted. Woo says the technique could help keep heart muscle alive after a heart attack while doctors restore blood flow. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon