Scientists believe they have just discovered a new organ in the body which no one knew about before now.
A new study published On Monday, March 27 says the new organ discovered is called the interstitium. The interstitium is a network of fluid-filled tubes all around the body which could act as a shock absorber. Sadly, this organ could also act as a conduit for cancerous cells to move to different parts of the body. However, knowing about it could lead to new treatments and better understanding.
If it is indeed an organ, it could be the biggest of 80 in the human body, found under the skin and also lining veins and arteries, muscles, the gut and every visceral organ. Previously, scientists had seen it but believed it was made up of dense connective tissue. When slides were examined that’s what it looked like, because to make a slide the fluid is drained away as part of the process.
Its true nature was realised during a routine endoscopy looking at a patient’s bile duct. Doctors noticed what looked like a network of capillaries, but clearly couldn’t be that because it would have picked up the fluorescent dye they were using. Previously, we knew that there was fluid between cells (known as interstitial fluid) but it wasn’t thought to be contained in a network like this.
New York University pathologist Dr Neil Theise said: “This finding has potential to drive dramatic advances in medicine. This includes the possibility that the direct sampling of interstitial fluid may become a powerful diagnostic tool. Once tumours get in, they’re like a water slide. We have a new window on the mechanism of tumours spreading.”