Because of its "dynamic" role in all these functions, the researchers say the interstitium should be called an organ in its own right. Such speculation was not helped by co-author Niel Theise MD, a pathologist at NYU School of Medicine, quoted in the above mentioned Fox News coverage as saying: "We have a new window on the mechanism of tumor spread ... once they get in, it's like they're on a water slide".
For it to become an official organ like the heart or skin, other groups would have to observe and study the interstitium and there would have to be a consensus.
However, because it is such a radical finding, future studies will need to be conducted before the interstitium is officially recognized as a new organ.
He estimates that it represents 20 percent of the body's volume, while the skin accounts for 16 percent.
Researchers previously thought the area between other organs and tissues in our body was largely solid, comprised of structural supportive proteins known as collagen, as well as stretchier elastin connective proteins. It could also explain the spread of certain cancers, as well as how a number of diseases progress in the body. "But this fixing process drains away fluid and causes the newfound fluid-filled spaces to collapse".
You might not feel any different, but scientists claim to have discovered a new organ inside you.
The results were recently published in the Journal Scientific Reports.
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What is the function of this newly found organ?
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The team behind the discovery suggest the compartments may act as "shock absorbers" that protect body tissues from damage.
To further study the interstitium, researchers froze tissue samples instead of chemically treating them to keep the fluid cavities "inflated" for later observation.
"It's like a shock absorber", says Dr Neil Theise, study author and professor at NYU's School of Medicine.
The largest organ in the human body?
In this case, however, the researchers were using a new piece of equipment called Probe-based Confocal Laser Endomicroscopy (PCLE), which lets them look at internal tissues directly without cutting or damaging them. Where the remaining fluid originates in the body has not been well understood until now.
It allowed them to examine living tissues on the microscopic level without the fluids drying out.
This story originally appeared in Business Insider.