The Interstitium is found under our skin and between our organs. It contains 20 percent of the fluid volume in our body and may serve as a shock absorber for our body, amongst other functions yet to be discovered. And it could be the mechanism via which cancer spreads, although this would require further research.
A research team from the School of Medicine in New York University published their study that led to the discovery in the journal Scientific Reports.
They called the new organ “interstitium” – to me it’s rather apt and sounds like the name of some sci-fi movie.
According to the study, the Interstitium is a network of fluid-filled compartments strung together in a mesh of collagen and flexible protein called elastin.
It exists all over our body, under our skin and between our organs.
Before the discovery, scientists thought the layer was just simple dense connective tissue.
The existence of the interstitium has hitherto eluded scientists because of the way tissue is studied – samples are thinly sliced and treated with chemicals that allow researchers to identify key components more easily, before being placed under a microscope.
This process drains fluid from the sample so the compartments collapse, like “a building with the floors suddenly knocked out, leaving the whole structure to flatten like a pancake”.
The discovery of the interstitium was accidental and happened when scientists first noticed the compartments when looking at a bile duct for signs of cancer.