Interstitium: Scientists say this is your new orga
Scientists have identified a new human organ hiding in plain sight, in a discovery they hope could help them understand the spread of cancer within the body.
Layers long thought to be dense, connective tissue are actually a series of fluid-filled compartments researchers have termed the “interstitium”.
These compartments are found beneath the skin, as well as lining the gut, lungs, blood vessels and muscles, and join together to form a network supported by a mesh of strong, flexible proteins.
Remarkably, the interstitium had previously gone unnoticed despite being one of the largest organs in the human body.
The study said the interstitium can compress or expand in size, suggesting it could serve as “shock absorbers” for other parts of the body.
The interstitial spaces were originally thought to be dense, connective tissue found surrounding arteries and veins and sitting right below the surface of the skin.
The discovery could lead to a better understanding of diseases, such as how cancer can quickly spread through the body.
This is the second time in as many years humans have learned details about a new organ. Last year, an Irish surgeon discovered the mesentery, which connects the intestine to the abdomen. It’s identifiable function is still not known.