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Liquids rapid route discovered in human anatomy
A new discovery has the potential for significant advances in medicine. American researchers have apparently discovered an unknown system in the human body that could be a new organ. The so-called interstitium is a body-wide network of interconnected, liquid-filled chambers that are supported by a network of strong, flexible proteins. Among other things, this network could provide groundbreaking insights into the spread of cancer in the body.
The discovery is a kind of street for liquids in the human body. This network consists of interconnected chambers in which liquids can move. These chambers thus connect the digestive tract, the lungs and the urinary tract as well as the surrounding arteries, veins and the fascia between the muscles in one system. The results of the study were recently published in the scientific reports.
What is the task of the newly discovered system?
This series of chambers is reinforced by a network of collagens and flexible connective tissue proteins. The whole system works like a shock absorber, which prevents the tissue from tearing, while organs, muscles and vessels pump, pulsate and contract in their normal function.
The liquids road
The new network discovered represents a kind of street with moving liquids that runs through the entire body and connects everything with one another. The researchers suspect that this could explain why cancer is more likely to spread once the disease enters this system.
One of the largest organs in humans?
The study authors report that over half of the fluid in the body is bound in cells and about a seventh is inside the heart, in the blood vessels, lymph nodes, and in the lymphatic vessels. The remaining liquid moves in the gaps. This “free” liquid is called interstitial in medicine. The researchers consider this fluid system as an independent organ. This would make the so-called interstitium one of the largest organs in the human body.
First viewing as a coherent system
The study scientists are the first to see the interstitium as a coherent unit. In previous studies, only examinations of fixed tissue on slides were thought to be the most accurate view of biological reality.
In the previous type of examination, however, any liquid had drained away and this led to the false assumption that the liquid-filled tissue chambers were solids. "Examination of the fixation artifact has made a fluid-filled tissue type appear solid throughout the body in biopsy slides for decades," said one of the lead authors of the study, Neil D. Theise, professor of pathology at NYU Langone Health, in a press release. The results of the study corrected this erroneous assumption in human anatomy.
Potential for significant advances in medicine
"This finding has the potential to drive dramatic advances in medicine," explains Theise. This included the possibility of using the interstitium as a new and powerful diagnostic tool by taking samples of this fluid and examining them.
Living cells instead of fixed slides
The results of the study are based on a newer technology, in which a tiny camera probe moves through the tissue and illuminates the surroundings with a laser. This enables microscopic views of living tissue instead of fixed ones.
The fluid-filled cavities were discovered accidentally during an investigation in autumn 2015 on the spread of cancer. The new probe technology was used in this investigation. While a patient's bile duct was being probed, the researchers came across the cavities. This discovery was the basis of the student research project. (vb)