Have we found a new organ that acts as a conduit for cancer, or is it something else altogether?
These past few days, the news about a team of scientists discovering a new organ has taken the internet by the storm. The headlines imply that the mysterious organ named interstitium has been hiding in plain sight before it was miraculously discovered this year. Although it’s been labeled as a “previously unknown feature of human anatomy,” that’s not really the case.
While there’s no denying that the study reveals some potentially ground-breaking theories, saying that the researchers have discovered a new organ is a bit of a stretch: it would be more accurate to say they’ve re-classified it.
Interstitium might be best described as a network of fluid-filled spaces in tissue that can be found all over our bodies. Naturally, something that could be considered to be “the largest organ in human body” wasn’t somehow escaping the notice of experts for centuries: it’s just that this is the first time that scientists propose we should consider this connective tissue to be an organ in its own right.
The study published in Scientific Reports reveals some new aspects to interstitium and explain why the overlooked tissue might be more important than we knew. According to the team of researchers from the United States, in vivo microscopy helped them uncover that interstitium makes up an intricate structure of fluid-filled spaces connected in one big network that spreads all over our body. Why is this important? Well, the scientists behind the study think that interstitial space could be blamed for cancer metastasis. They believe that it’s how fluids enter the lymphatic system, and, therefore, enable a way for a disease to spread.
Of course, this study has just scratched the surface and opened the door for further research, which is desperately needed before we make any conclusions. However, if the team that “discovered” interstitium is on the right track, this might mean we’re a step closer to understand one of the mechanisms of cancer. And that, you’ll agree, is much more headline-worthy than re-classification of connective tissue.
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