What is Interstitium a New Organ Found by Scientist
Scientists have discovered a new organ in the human body and this discovery might also help scientists about ‘Cancer Treatment’ and how cancer spreads to different parts of the body. This is, in reality, a second new discovery in near future; the earlier organ discovered was by the Irish surgeon “Mesentery” which connects intestine to the abdomen, though the functions of this are still unknown. The reason scientists believe that they have discovered a new organ is that organs have at least one specific function which is the case with ‘interstitium’.
What are they and Where are they located -Earlier, they were thought to be connective tissues but now it is discovered that they are actually fluid filled compartments found –
• Beneath the skin
• Internal lining of the intestine
• Lungs blood vessels
• And muscles.
Previously, it was thought that the tissue layers were a dense wall of “Collagen” and flexible “Elastin”, a structural protein. But now it is discovered that they are open fluid-filled passages. So they are the largest organ of the body which went unnoticed for a long time.
Discovery of the Organ –
‘Interstitium’ was discovered by Israel Medical Center Medics Dr. David Carrlocke and Dr. Petros Benras. While searching for signs of cancer in a patient’s Bile duct, unknown cavities were found by these doctors who did not match any other body structure.
Why the organ was not discovered earlier –
The reason the organ was not discovered earlier was that these tissues or the organ don’t show up under a simple microscopic slide and also scientists earlier used to cut the organ into slices, treat it with a dye before putting them under the microscope slide. This all procedure led to the destruction of the organ.
To substantiate the research, Doctors have done a biopsy on 12 more patients and have found that the layer transfers the fluid to the lymphatic system; a network of the vessel transporting lymph which helps in body’s immune system. When the team looked at the frozen tissues, it was found that it was an extended tissue network. Later on, it was observed that the tissue is composed of Collagen and contained fluid-filled spaces which were irregular cells that produce endothelial and mesenchymal. It is now believed that the cancer cells (tumors) might be making their way through ‘interstitium’ into the lymphatic system. This has opened another door for research towards Cancer growth in the body and might change the way Cancer cure is done currently.
We all know that human body is 60 % of water.2/3rd of which is inside the cells while the remaining 20% is between the cells which were known as “interstitial fluid”. Interstitial is a Latin word which literally means between the spaces. So they are basically found throughout the body- skin, digestive system or the urinary system. This new discovery is based on “Probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy” (pCLE). The tool combines endoscope with laser and sensors and helps in better visualization of live tissues and organs. This shows the power of the in vivo microscopy. The initial study was done on the cancer patients who were undergoing surgery to remove bile/ pancreas. The tissues were taken out and frozen which allowed the fluid-filled spaces to stay open and build a better understanding of these new structures.Functions performed by Interstitium – It is agreed that the new organs could expand and relax which proves that they act as shock absorbers to protect tissues from everyday chores.
A lot of the functions and the usability of these was already known to the scientists, it is just the official naming or renaming of the structures that have been done now.
The study presented now has substantiated to results of one of the studies done back in 2011 by Nathanson and colleagues. They had also observed the dark fibers but were not able to exactly figure out what they were and what is their function.
How could the study alter Cancer Research and medicines – It is observed that the ‘interstitium’ could be acting as a source of transfer of cancer cells in the body Apart from acting a shock absorber for the body. Examinations of the colon, stomach and skin cancer which had metastasized or grew were growing through the interstitial spaces into the lymph nodes. Thus it suggests that ‘interstitium’ drains into the lymphatic system. So the research might also help explain how some of the tumors expand at an enormous pace while some do not. Though the validation of this theory would be done once we have more tests done on it – quoted by Maitra
This finding would have the potential to have the direct sampling of the ‘Interstitium’ and would act as a powerful diagnostic tool for Cancer and would also help in understanding human anatomy in more detail.
‘Interstitium’ could also help us understand few other questions like –
• Why limbs get stiff?
• Why skin wrinkles as we grow old?
• How does inflammation spread to the body?
We might also be able to better understand some of the therapies like “Acupuncture”. How does acupuncture works and helps the issues of body pain, stiffness etc?
Summing it up –
This path-breaking discovery would also help in discovering realizing the improvement in microscopy and to the extent, they are useful in examining live tissues.
Overall, it is observed that the study has been done on the limited numbers of patients and also the study is done on the tissues outside of bile. We need to have detailed studies done on the topic, not to question the importance of this discovery and that it has opened doors to a lot of undiscovered things about human Anatomy.
Experiments have already started on the ‘interstitium’ of the mice which would help understand the role of ‘interstitium’ both in humans and animals. – By Theise and colleagues (New York University Pathologist)
The discovery might later help in the way we are approaching life-threatening diseases like cancer and liver.