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  • Did you know that you have a whole new organ?

  • I know, it just popped up overnight!

  • I don't think I felt mine grow in, did you?

  • No, I'm just kidding, this structure was actually always there, but we're only just

  • now recognizing what it is and how it really works.

  • And it's a pretty big deal--it changes the way we see not only our bodies and how they

  • work, but also a whole host of important diseases.

  • Does that really make it a new organ, though?

  • An organ is a group of tissues that perform a specific function.

  • There's a thing in our body called the interstitium, also known as the interstitial space*, which

  • is a layer of tissue we've known about for a long time.

  • It sits beneath our skin, surrounding all of our organs and arteries and veins and muscles,

  • blanketing them on the inside just like our skin covers our body on the outside.

  • But a few months ago, researchers were looking at a patient's bile duct for signs of cancer

  • when they saw something in the interstitium that didn't match up with any known human

  • anatomy.

  • See, the way we typically study human tissues in a lab is to take an extremely thin slice

  • and look at it on a slide under a microscope, maybe dying it different colors to enable

  • us to see certain structures.

  • But doing this removes all the fluid from that tissue sample.

  • And this means we've been missing something big.

  • Up until now, we've thought that the interstitium was just plain ol' connective tissue.

  • We have connective tissue all over our bodies, connecting bones to one another, connecting

  • our muscles to our bones, and generally just holding us together.

  • It's important, but pretty ubiquitous and typically not very specialized.

  • But these researchers saw something new because they were looking at tissue samples in a new

  • way.

  • Using a technique called confocal laser endomicroscopy, they could see the TRUE nature of the interstitium..this

  • visualization method uses a low-powered laser to scan an area of the body and create a digital

  • 3D reconstruction.

  • Using this technique, researchers could now observe a whole network of fluid-filled sacs--structures

  • that got drained and therefore essentially disappeared when we'd looked at interstitium

  • samples with the more traditional slice and 'scope method.

  • We've now observed that the interstitium is actually a complex network of interconnected

  • fluid-filled compartments, supported by connective tissue proteins like collagen and elastin.

  • It may act as a shock absorber, twisting and bending with our bodies as we move, keeping

  • our organs in place and keeping them from tearing or otherwise flopping or floating

  • about in our bodies.

  • Perhaps even more importantly, the fluid in the interstitium is connected to our lymphatic

  • system, draining to our lymph nodes, and it may actually be a source of lymph.

  • Which is HUGE because lymphatic fluid is an essential part of our immune system, carrying

  • cells that fight infection...but it also plays a major role in the spread of cancer.

  • When cancer metastasizes, it spreads from its tissue of origin to other parts of the

  • body through the blood or the lymph.

  • So understanding the interstitium as a new key player in the lymphatic system could give

  • us a better understanding of cancer, and why and how it spreads.

  • But.

  • The million dollar question.

  • Is the interstitium truly an organ?

  • No.

  • Not yet, at least.

  • For it to be classified as such it'll take lots of follow-up research and verification.

  • I mean the mesentary, which we talked about last year, still isn't an official organ,

  • so it takes some serious doing to get on that list.

  • Really, calling something an organ is mostly a semantic distinction.

  • It could help direct research toward this structure, but the significance of this work

  • is pretty independent of whether call the interstitium a new organ or not.

  • This study not only revealed brand new information about the way our bodies work, but also made

  • us call into question the way we've been looking at them.

  • And last but not least, this discovery has sparked conversation once again about what

  • organs are and how we classify them and what counts as one...a discussion that's constantly

  • evolving in the scientific field.

  • I love that science is always changing and learning from itself.

  • What else do you think we haven't known about our bodies this whole time?

  • Let us know in the comments, and check out Sam's video here to learn about a part of

  • the brain that's been hiding from us.

  • Thanks for watching!

Did you know that you have a whole new organ?

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Why Do Scientists Keep Finding New Organs?

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    joey joey に公開 2021 年 04 月 14 日
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