Scientists discover new human organ 'intersitium'

The new organ consists of fluid filled spaces which could be used to help understand the spread of cancer.
The new organ consists of fluid filled spaces which could be used to help understand the spread of cancer. Photo credit: Eric V. Grave/Getty

US scientists say they have identified a new human organ which they've called "interstitium".

Interstitium sits below the surface of the skin, looks like mesh and surrounds arteries and veins - a casing for fibrous tissue between muscles.

It can also be found lining our digestive tracts, lungs and urinary systems.

Until now scientists believed the interstitium layer was just a form of dense connective tissue, but a new approach to studying tissue allowed scientists to see it differently for the first time.

Historically, tissue samples were placed under a microscope, thinly sliced and treated with chemicals. But this approach would drain the fluid and collapse the structure of the interstitium.

A new method involving a camera probe has meant the organ can now be looked at as a living tissue. 

Neil Theise, professor at New York's School of Medicine - the school that made the discovery - told National Geographic the organ is like a "shock absorber".

He has a theory it could be a fluid that supports immunity and that researching how diseases spread through this part of the body could give scientists a better understanding of cancer. 

"Can we detect [disease] earlier by sampling fluid from the space? Can we figure out mechanisms to stop spread?", Professor Theise asked. 

Newshub.