The human body never ceases to surprise and now Greek American gastroenterologist Petros Benias and his team in the US, have announced they have discovered a new organ system, unknown until now, which seems to play a role in various conditions, including cancer.
When asked if this new discovery can help fight cancer, Dr Benias replied, “what we understand is that cancer when it is at an early stage, to spread, to go deeper must go through this space we have found, from this void, it doesn’t simply go to the vessels or the lymph nodes or the lymphatic system, it first passes through this space.”
Dr. Benias, from the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset and a team of collaborators have identified a new organ system, one of the most extensive in the human body, according to the group’s report in a scientific journal.
The discovery identified that layers of the body long thought to be dense, connective tissues are actually interconnected, fluid-filled compartments, categorising this part of the body as an organ.
The findings were published Wednesday in Scientific Reports and could lead to better understanding and improved treatments for cancer and other inflammatory conditions.
“This discovery is extremely exciting because we’ve defined novel microanatomy and have laid the groundwork for how this may begin to explain cancer spread, inflammation and scarring of connective tissue. This discovery will open up new research pathways for inflammation and cancer progression,” said Dr. Benias.
“We are optimistic that with what we learned, we’ll soon be able to study and target the interstitial space for diagnosis of disease and perhaps for novel personalised treatments.”
“For years we have known that more than half the fluid in the body is within cells, and approximately a seventh of the fluid is inside the heart, blood vessels, lymph nodes, and lymph vessels – the remaining fluid is “interstitial.” The interstitium, or connective tissue, up to now, has been thought mostly to exist between cells defined historically as a “third space”, but this does not account for the massive amount of fluid stored within the human body outside of the vascular system.
“I would call it an organ system. That’s the most appropriate term,” Dr. Benias says, clarifying media reports earlier in the week that called tissue a distinct organ.
“Whatever people want to call it, this interstitial space is much more than what I learned in a traditional medical school education,” Dr Benias said.
“Perhaps there will be treatment in the future where we can control the spread of cancer in a very simple way. Perhaps with medicine that can be injected.”