Scientists Say They Just Discovered a New Organ Hiding Inside the Human Body
We are at a point in human civilization where some things seem absolute. There is a lot going on inside the human body, but if you told us yesterday that there are organs yet to be discovered, we'd think you were crazy.
According to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers have found fluid-filled spaces in connective tissue all over the body, from beneath our skin to the lining of our digestive tracts that constitute a brand-new organ.
According to the study, confocal laser endomicroscopy of the tissue layer has revealed that "rather than being densely-packed barrier-like walls of collagen, they are fluid-filled interstitial spaces."
The spaces had been missed in previous studies because of the way scientists prepared samples for microscopic slides.
"They treat the samples with chemicals, cut them into thin slices and dye them to highlight key features," reports LiveScience. "But this fixing process drains away fluid and causes the newfound fluid-filled spaces to collapse."
The new imaging technique eliminated that prep stage, so network of fluid and spaces (which the scientists are calling the "interstitium") was left intact.
For it to become an official organ like the heart or skin, other groups would have to observe and study the interstitium and there would have to be a consensus. But that doesn't mean that there aren't things to learn from it in the meantime.
Co-senior study author Dr. Neil Theise and his team believe that the structures "may be important in cancer metastasis, edema, fibrosis, and mechanical functioning of many or all tissues and organs."
The fluid and pathways be how cancer is spread to lymph nodes, so a better understanding of how it all connects could mean better forms of treatment for patients.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Michael Nathanson of Yale University School of Medicine said that it "allows us ask all kinds of questions we didn't even know to ask beforehand," which is something that all good research should do.