Scientists discover new organ, and it may help explain the spread of cancer

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Microscope in the Laboratory, modern close-up shot

Scientists believe they’ve discovered a new human organ, and it might knock skin out as No. 1 on the list of the body’s biggest.

According to the study published in Scientific Reports, New York University’s School of Medicine researchers are calling the organ the “interstitium.”

According to a press release from New York University’s Langone Health, the study “reveals that layers of the body long thought to be dense, connective tissues—below the skin’s surface, lining the digestive tract, lungs, and urinary systems, and surrounding arteries, veins, and the fascia between muscles—are instead interconnected, fluid-filled compartments.”

The spaces, supported by a meshwork of connective tissue proteins, may act like shock absorbers that keep tissues from tearing, the study says.

Researchers say they didn’t see the spaces prior because they were examining tissue on slides. The slicing and dying methods used on the tissue before examination drained away any fluid, causing it to flatten.

This study is based on a newer technology, where a camera is snaked down the throat with a laser that lights up tissue and patterns.

The finding may even help researchers in the fight against cancer.

The press release states: “Importantly, the finding that this layer is a highway of moving fluid may explain why cancer that invades it becomes much more likely to spread. Draining into the lymphatic system, the newfound network is the source of lymph, the fluid vital to the functioning of immune cells that generate inflammation. Furthermore, the cells that reside in the space, and collagen bundles they line, change with age, and may contribute to the wrinkling of skin, the stiffening of limbs, and the progression of fibrotic, sclerotic, and inflammatory diseases.”

More here. 

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