Lungs Found to Have a Secret Function
Albeit it in mice, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have uncovered a previously unknown function of the lung – they help make blood. Or platelets to be more precise. These are components that bind blood together to assist with clotting and are involved in circulation.
In addition to recognizing this, researchers also “managed to identify a cache of stem cells – the type that can differentiate into almost any cell type with the right biological programming – that can transform themselves into blood cells,” according to IFLScience.com. This is especially of interest because, while bone marrow is thought to be the primary source of stem cells, these findings imply that the lungs are capable of picking up the slack in the event that bone marrow is unable to keep up with demand.
“This finding definitely suggests a more sophisticated view of the lungs – that they’re not just for respiration but also a key partner in the formation of crucial aspects of the blood,” senior author Mark Looney said in a statement issued in Science Daily. Despite the fact that this was found in mice, researchers are nonetheless excited, our lungs are surprisingly similar, there’s a good chance we may possess the same hidden feature.
View a video outlining the researcher’s discovery here.