Even if you aren’t that into science, you’ll find this news about the human body incredibly interesting. Scientists have just discovered a new organ that’s apparently inside all of us. It’s called the interstitium, and it can reveal major info about cancer. This is pretty exciting — it’s not every day that scientists discover an organ!
A recent study in Scientific Reports says that humans might have a previously unknown major organ, the interstitium.
The report describes it as a “widespread, macroscopic, fluid-filled space within and between tissues.” This could be one of the biggest organs in the human body, and it can help our understanding not just of cancer but of many other diseases, too. In other words, this is likely a really important discovery.
According to NBC, the report says that “a network of dense connective tissues and fluid-filled compartments called the interstitium is a full-fledged organ — that is, a group of tissues with a unique structure performing a specialized task, like the heart or the liver.”
About 20% of the fluid in the body is “interstitial,” which is Latin for “between the other places.” All of that fluid, plus a network of connective tissue, is called the interstitium, and it can be found all throughout the body, just below the skin and in the digestive, respiratory, and urinary systems.
As of right now, further research is needed to determine whether or not the interstitium is an actual separate organ. Still, understanding it better could make scientists reassess every organ of the human body.
Gaining more knowledge of the interstitium could also be essential for diagnosing and treating diseases like cancer. That’s because interstitial fluid is the source of lymph, which dispatches white blood cells wherever they’re needed — white blood cells are what fights infections in the body for the immune system, so they’re incredibly important.
Researchers have said that because interstitium is found throughout the body, it could be a huge part of focusing on the immune system in order to find effective treatments for cancer.
It seems like this should have been discovered before — after all, it’s 2018, and we do things like send cars into space just for fun. But according to NBC, no one saw this fluid before because of the way scientists usually look at a human body, which involves draining it of all fluid. When fluid is drained, interstitial tissues pretty much collapse. Scientists used a different method of examining the body this time, one that didn’t drain all of the fluid, and they were able to see the interstitial tissue much better.
This discovery is probably going to lead to a whole lot more research. Neil D. Theise, a pathology professor at Langone Medical Center at New York University said, “The microanatomy of the entire body needed to be re-examined.”
We’re kind of excited to see where this takes scientists. Who knows? It could lead to something incredible.