Up until now the largest human organ was the skin, however, scientists at New York’s School of Medicine have found something to disband this belief. Previously believed to be connective tissue, Interstitium is described as a fluid-filled, 3-D latticework of collagen and elastin connective tissue. It is all over your body, right under your skin in fact. It surrounds arteries and veins and the tissue between muscles, as well as lining the digestive tract, lungs and urinary system.

It’s exact purpose is not fully known, but, it could be acting as a shock absorber for other organs or it could be responsible for spreading diseases throughout the body, including cancer. This is possible as it acts as a conduit for fluids to enter the lymphatic system. Dr. Neil Theise, a pathologist and professor at the New York University School of Medicine said;

We have never understood the mechanism of how that happens, […] Now we have the ability. If we figure out the mechanism, we can figure out how to interfere with it.

The research into this speculated organ began in 2014 when newer imaging technology to examine a patient’s bile duct at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan became available. The technology allowed doctors to examine alive tissue in real-time, during this possess they found fluid-filled cavities which they wanted to examine further. The reason this could not have been discovered sooner was due to the traditional way of examining tissue was to remove it from the human body, but, this destroyed the latticework into something unrecognisable. Dr. Benias contiues;

Several things happen to a surgical specimen when you take it out of the body. It completely structurally changes, and all the water is lost, […] You’re missing a lot of the story there, and that’s the problem.

Further Reading

News.com.au – Researchers identify new human organ that may play a role in cancer

New York Times – Is This Tissue a New Organ? Maybe. A Conduit for Cancer? It Seems Likely

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