Ten unusual facts from pathology past and present

We’ve gathered together some of our favourite unusual pathology-related facts, here are ten of the best:

  1. It may feel like collectors take a lot of blood when you have a blood test, don’t worry, 15 million blood cells are produced and destroyed in the human body every second!
  2. Until the 1960s, pregnancy tests involved injecting a woman’s urine into a female African clawed frog!
  3. The pap smear was developed by Georgios Papanicolaou. His wife, Mary, was his first subject – having a cervical smear every day for 21 years, all in the name of science!
  4. Pathology is vital in the fight against antibiotic resistance as it tells doctors when to use antibiotics and which drug will be most effective. Milk from Tasmanian Devils could provide an effective antibiotic against superbugs. Peptides in the milk have been shown to kill the infamous ‘golden staph’ superbug. Go the Devils!
  5. 17th Century Dutchman Antoni van Leeuwenhoek was the first to use a microscope to study tiny organisms. Widely known as ‘The Father of Microbiology’ he gave these organisms a name rarely used today, ‘animalcules’. This cute-sounding Latin name means ‘little animals’.
  6. A technique developed in Queensland in 2014 uses venom from the Coastal Taipan or Eastern Brown Snakes to perform blood tests for patients on anticoagulant medications.
  7. The average human body carries ten times more bacterial cells than human cells and scarily the strongest creatures on Earth are gonorrhoea bacteria. They can pull 100,000 times their own body weight.
  8. Don’t worry though, most of the bacteria we carry are helpful. Bacteria produce chemicals that help us harness energy and nutrients from our food. Research has shown that germ-free rodents have to consume a third more calories than normal rodents to maintain body weight.
  9. In Mesopotamia medical practitioners examined the livers of sacrificed sheep. At the time, the liver was thought to be the source of human blood. Clay models of sheep livers date back as far as 2050 B.C. Talk about medicine gone baaad!
  10. In Medieval Europe, doctors often diagnosed their patients by observing the urine’s smell, consistency – and even its taste. Urine analysis was pioneered by Thomas Willis in the 1600s – he was the first to notice the characteristic sweet taste of urine from patients with diabetes.

What fantastic facts do you know about pathology? Post them at #IPD2016