Scientists discover new organ in the human body using advanced imaging techniques

A newfound organ, the interstitium, is seen here beneath the top layer of skin, but is also in tissue layers lining the gut, lungs, and urinary systems, as well as those surrounding blood vessels and the fascia between muscles. The organ is a body-wide network of interconnected, fluid-filled compartments supported by a meshwork of strong, flexible proteins.( Illustration by Jill Gregory/Mount Sinai Health System, licensed under CC-BY-ND). Illustration by Jill Gregory/Mount Sinai Health System

A new report published in the journal Scientific Reports has revealed the discovery of a new organ in the human body by the researchers in New York. The newly identified organ which is actually a highway of moving fluid was detected with the help of advanced imaging techniques.

The fluid network was unknown to health experts until this discovery was made by the team of researchers in New York.

According to the scientists who took part in the study, the newly found network of fluid is present in various parts of the body including, the area below skin's surface and between the muscles, the lining of the digestive track, and respiratory systems, and also in arteries and veins.

It was found accidentally when the team collected tissue specimens of bile ducts during 12 cancer surgeries to remove the pancreas and the bile duct. Minutes prior to clamping off blood flow to the target tissue, patients were put through confocal microscopy for live tissue imaging.

It was then that the team recognized this new space in images of bile ducts, which they quickly recognized to be present throughout the body, wherever tissues moved or were compressed by force. The cells lining the space are also unusual, perhaps responsible for creating and maintaining the supporting collagen bundles around, said the authors.

Scientists believe that the major work of these fluid-filled spaces is to act as a shock absorber which prevents wear and tear of other internal organs.

"This finding has potential to drive dramatic advances in medicine. The direct sampling of interstitial fluid may become a powerful diagnostic tool," said Dr Neil Thiese, a pathologist at the New York University School of Medicine and lead author of the work.

The researchers also added that this new discovery will improve the treatments of various diseases including cancer and other age-related diseases. As the network of fluid drains into the lymphatic system, learning more about this new organ will help researchers to know how cancer that gets into this highway initiates the process of metastasis quickly.

Until now, researchers had made use of fixed tissues under microscopes to learn about human cells. But now, with the advent of modern technology, the team of New York researchers analyzed the living tissues instead of the fixed ones, and it has resulted in this discovery.

For many years, scientists were aware of this fluid canal known as interstitium but this is for the first time that they recognized its status as an organ in its own right.

As interstitium is getting recognized as an organ, it will stand next to the skin as the largest organ in the human body.The US National Institute of Health has funded this study.