In a recent study published in Scientific Reports, a team of researchers based in New York say they may have discovered a new organ inside the human body that was previously unknown… The interstitium; small fluid-filled compartments located beneath the lungs, gut, muscles, and blood vessels – this unusual discovery could help scientists and doctors gain a more thorough understanding as to why cancer spreads from one part of the body to another.

When you think about how far science has come and how advanced our knowledge is in anatomy, it seems strange that doctors would discover a brand new body part in this day and age. What they once thought was a “wall” of dense collagen, a structural protein found in tissue lining, is actually a network of connective tissues that’s more like an “open, fluid-filled highway,” according to co-senior study author Dr. Neil Theise. These fluid-filled spaces have never shown up on microscopic slides, which is what scientists use to look more closely into the world of cells, hence why they’ve gone unnoticed for so long. Despite being unidentifiable until now, this new organ is the largest by volume among all 80 organs found in the body.

The discovery could have a major impact on cancer research and explain why the disease spreads throughout the body, particularly to the lymph nodes. However, it’s still early days, and a lot of research still needs to be carried out for the interstitium to be officially identified as an organ. A consensus needs to develop more around the idea, and the existence of the fluid-filled compartments must be confirmed by other medical groups.

For more information on this amazing discovery, click here.