Okay, file this under really weird news you’ve got to know about. According to NBC News, scientists may have discovered a new organ that’s been hiding in the human body all along.
In a study published this week, researchers explain that “a network of dense connective tissues and fluid-filled compartments” called the interstitium actually qualifies as a full-fledged organ like the heart or liver. An organ is defined as “a group of tissues with a unique structure performing a specialized task.”
The craziest part about the interstitium, though, is that unlike the heart or liver, it’s not in one specific place in the body. It’s made up of fluid and tissues found all over the body, including under the skin and in the digestive and respiratory systems.
Why Care About a New Organ?
Further research will be needed to totally confirm whether or not it qualifies, but what might it mean for your health?
One of the study’s authors told NBC it “could be particularly significant in diagnosing and tracking the spread of cancers and other diseases that spread throughout the body,” since interstitial fluid is the source of lymph, which is heavily involved in the immune system.
Either way, any time smart scientists discover something new and exciting about the way our bodies work it tends to lead to bigger advances that are good for us. Just think about the microbiome, which researchers only started calling attention to recently and already has implications for gut health, mental health, immunity, and more. Or the endocannabinoid system, which could help scientists figure out how to better treat pain and depression.
Mull over all that while you practice pronouncing “interstitium.”
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