Scientists have discovered a new organ in the human body which they have dubbed the 'interstitium'. According to a report in the Daily Mail, the interstitium lies beneath the top layer of skin, but is also in tissue layers lining the gut, lungs, blood vessels, and muscles. The organ is a network of interconnected, fluid-filled spaces all over the body.
As per the report, researchers say the network that carries this interstitial fluid is its own distinct organ and it may even be one of the largest organs in the body.
Researchers say that the study is the first to define the interstitium as an organ in its own right, and as one of the largest of the body. The new organ is made up of both strong (collagen) and flexible (elastin) connective tissue proteins, with interstitial fluid moving throughout.
For the study, the researchers examined tissue specimens of bile ducts from twelve cancer patients and recognised the structure in each. They found it exists all throughout the body, acting like a shock absorber in all places where tissues are moved or subjected to force.
According to the team, the discovery of the fluid ‘highway’ could help to explain how cancer spreads in the body, and pave the way for new ways to detect and treat the disease.
Researchers were able to view living tissues instead of fixed ones by using a newer technology called probe-based confocal laser encomicroscopy. The instrument uses a camera probe to light up tissues, while sensors analyze the reflected patterns.
The study was originally published in the Journal of Scientific Reports.
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