Great Discoveries About the Human Body in 2019
December 29, 2019
We may think we know all there is to know about the human body but there are discoveries made all the time. In 2019 scientists have found out more new and exciting things. Here is some of the most up to date research that came to light this year.
We Have More Microbiome Bacteria Than We Thought
This year saw the publication of a huge study on the human microbiome. The research, published in Cell, shows that there are thousands of good bacteria living inside us that we didn't know existed.
The work aims to document the additional bacteria but there is still a lot to do; it seems that there are still some that are there just waiting to be discovered.
This research can lead the way for more studies into how these 'friendly bugs' act to protect us from many types of diseases. New insights will likely mean new ways to treat diseases in the future.
You Have a ‘Throw-back’ Bone in Your Knee
This April the Journal of Anatomy published some research which indicates that a bone in the knee that a century ago was only found in around 11% of the population is starting to make a come-back.
Shutterstock / Film X-ray knee radiograph show Os Fabella. Fabella is a small bone embedded in tendon. This can lead to posterolateral knee pain. Highlight on painful area. Medical imaging concept.
The fabella is located in the tendon behind the knee and is now found three times more often than it was 100 years ago. Around 39% of people in the study were said to have this sesamoid bone.
The strangest thing about this is that the presence of other sesamoid bones in the body had not changed over time. It could be that better nutrition has led to more bone formation and as some people tend to be taller and heavier this creates pressure on the knee which has encouraged the fabella to form.
This could explain why the existence of the fabella makes a person more prone to arthritis.
A Genetic Basis for Left-handedness
Scientists published research in September showing that multiple genetic regions influence which hand we use.
The study, in Brain, showed that this was also linked with the structure of the brain and its development. This is the first time that scientists have been able to isolate the origins of left-handedness.
By looking at the 400,000 participants and studying their genome the scientists found that the presence of left-handedness is a result of a combination of multiple genes and the way they influence the structural organization of the brain, in particular, the speech centers.
Your White Blood Cells Give Gallstones Their Shape
Gallstones are made of a combination of cholesterol and calcium but scientists weren't sure how these all got stuck together and what gave gallstones their shape.
A study published in Immunity back in September finally answered this question. The team looked at the sludge that is produced within the gallbladder and found that it was white blood cells that make all the crystals stick together which then created the little round gallstone.
This vital insight could make all the difference in the prevention of gallstone development.
Suicidal Thoughts in PTSD Sufferers is Linked to a Bio-marker in the Brain
Back in May, a study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which could give new hope for better treatments for veterans and other people who have suicidal thoughts as a result of PTSD.
The scientists found that there was a chemical that may be unique to those with PTSD which can be used to identify those most at risk from suicidal thinking.
This discover is likely to impact the development of new and more effective medication for PTSD sufferers. Current medication takes some weeks to become effective and there is currently nothing available to prevent suicidal thoughts.
If scientists can develop a drug that can successfully manipulate this chemical in the brain it could improve the quality of life for thousands of peoples.
As we move into 2020 more and more advances in our knowledge will likely be made, leading to better treatments and an improvement in the quality of life for millions of people.