HomeHealthArchivesOct 2009

 

The Useful and Promising Appendix

For years scientist have thought of the appendix as a worthless artifact, good for only a potential lethal inflammation.

Research suggests that the appendix is more than a useless remnant. Recently it was proposed that it actually performs a critical function and appears in nature a lot more often than originally thought. There is hope that this organ could be used by physicians to help the human body to be more effective in the fight against disease.

Said researcher William Parker, "maybe it's time to correct the textbooks," an immunologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. "Many biology texts today still refer to the appendix as a 'vestigial organ.'"

"Everyone likely knows at least one person who had to get their appendix taken out - slightly more than 1 in 20 people do - and they see there are no ill effects, and this suggests that they don't need it," Parker said.

Parker and his colleagues, however, recently suggested that the appendix still served as a vital safehouse where good bacteria could reside until they are needed to repopulate the gut after a nasty bout of diarrhea. Previous studies also found the appendix can help make, direct and train white blood cells.