Here’s a treat for Valentine’s Day: Take a close-up look at a decellularized “ghost heart.” This heart can serve as a scaffold upon which to grow a working heart from human stem cells. Researchers at the Texas Heart Institute created it by stripping all the living cells from a pig heart with a soap solution, which bursts the cells and leaves only the protein structure behind. These scientists have successfully implanted tissue-engineered hearts into rats and pigs so far. They hope ultimately to create personalized human hearts and help relieve the shortage of donor organs.


Read more in the TED Book Super Cells: Building With Biology, by Nina Tandon and Mitchell Joachim. It’s available for the Kindle, Nook, and through the iBookstoreOr download the TED Books app to get access to this title — and the entire TED Books archive — for the duration of your subscription. 

Note: This piece was originally published on the TED Blog on February 14, 2014.