Saturday, August 8, 2009

SPLEEEEEEEEN!!!!!!!!

So I am the worst plus one ever, or at the very least the most unreliable. I forgot to tell Justin that I go home only every once in a while to change clothes and other than that I have limited access to my computer. Now that being said I have about three days to make up for, so I should be getting some posts in rapid fire.

First things first, after 2000 years of research scientists are finally discovering what the spleen is actually for. Often thought to be an archaic organ like the appendix left over from a previous evolution that just hasn't quite found it's way out of our genetic code, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard's Medical School have found that the spleen contains an enormous cache of immune cells called monocytes. During serious physical trauma the spleen floods the body with these monocytes to help the body react and defend itself. Source NY Times. (Retrospective: When I first read this article it was much shorter and lacked the history of beliefs about the spleen.)

For those wondering what the hell a monocyte is, it's a white bloodcell specializing in being able to move quickly to infected tissue and then becoming one of two other immune cells capable of defending the body from foriegn substances.

The article goes on to discuss other recent discoveries about the usefulness of the spleen. It filters our blood helping to remove parysites and dead blood cells, then dissolves the dead blood cells and takes important resources such as iron to be reused.

Well now we know the spleen is good for something besides making you depressed. (In elizabethan england medical beliefs centered on a system of fluids called the four humors, the spleen being responsible for the production of black bile which if you had an excess of would make you depressed and cranky.)

No comments:

Post a Comment