Since the dawn of time, we have been dissecting bodies. Medical science owes many of its greatest breakthroughs to people who have donated their bodies for research after they have died, and, in some cases, had their remains taken without their consent by body snatchers.
Now that we live in an age of space exploration, it’s hard to believe that there’s anything about the physicality of the human body that we don’t know. After all, millions of corpses have been dissected, but it turns out that an organ went completely unidentified until now.
The news report below provides the lowdown on this remarkable discovery:
So what is this mysterious organ that literally thousands of doctors haven’t noticed? Well, it’s one of the biggest in the human body (yes, we’re completely serious), and its discovery could have massive implications when it comes to the treatment and prevention of cancer.
The organ in question is called the interstitium. In a study which was published today in the journal Scientific Report, it was revealed that the interstitium is a network of fluid-filled tubes which exist all around the body. What’s more is that it could work as a shock absorber.
The fact that the interstitium is so large, however, could explain why cancerous cells are able to spread from organ to organ. This knowledge is something which scientists could use to save lives once they understand more about how the interstitium works.
As it stands, one in two people will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime, so it has colossal implications for humanity as a whole.
While the interstitium is currently being described as an organ in the study today, further research will be required before this can be confirmed.
If it is, it will be classed as one of the largest organs in the human body.
Until now, scientists thought that the interstitium was nothing more than dense connective tissue.
However, during a routine endoscopy of a bile duct, doctors realized that they were looking at what appeared to be a network of capillaries.
After this discovery was made, doctors approached New York University pathologist Dr. Neil Theise to try and identify what they had found.
It was then that doctors realized no one had discovered the interstitium before because fluid is usually drained away before the tissue is examined under a microscope – an act which would destroy the structure of the “organ”.
Once this conclusion was reached, scientists realized that the interstitium existed not only in the bile duct but throughout the body.
“The more tissues I saw, the more I realized it’s everywhere,” Dr. Theise said.
“This fixation artefact of collapse has made a fluid-filled tissue type throughout the body appear solid in biopsy slides for decades, and our results correct for this to expand the anatomy of most tissues.”
It is currently believed that the interstitium’s purpose is to act as a cushion which protects the body’s organs from harm, which is why it’s could act as a shock absorber.
“This finding has potential to drive dramatic advances in medicine, including the possibility that the direct sampling of interstitial fluid may become a powerful diagnostic tool,” Dr. Theise said.
We can only hope that further studies of the interstitium lead to breakthroughs which save lives.