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.

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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.