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29 March 2018, 01:48 | Franklin Nunez
The interstitium scientists found is under our skin and between our organs
The press release states: "Importantly, the finding that this layer is a highway of moving fluid may explain why cancer that invades it becomes much more likely to spread".
The pockets of fluid are surrounded by a web of collagen interwoven by a flexible protein called elastin.
The researchers observed a net-like structure surrounding fluid-filled spaces around the bile duct.
Past technology meant that the appearance of these networks of fluid would not have shown on scans, and Theise and his team now believe that the discovery may be useful in cancer detection. When scientists prepare tissue samples for these slides, they treat the samples with chemicals, cut them into thin slices and dye them to highlight key features.
While this may make certain structures more apparent, it drains away any existing fluid.
The system drains into the lymphatic system, and is said to be the source of lymph, which is vital to the functioning of inflammation-causing immune cells.
Both within its shock absorbing capabilities and its potential role in spreading cancer through the body. And not all experts are sure that it is accurate to call the interstitium an organ. Jennifer Munson, a biomedical engineer at Virginia Tech tells Sarah Gibbens of National Geographic that while the new paper demonstrates "the benefit of having new ways to image and look at tissues", further research into the interstitium's function is warranted.
According to reports, the interstitium protects the body's organs, muscles and other tissues from "bumps and shocks". The laser lights up the tissues, sensors analyze the reflected fluorescent patterns, offering a microscopic real-time view of the living tissues.
Its true nature was realised during a routine endoscopy looking at a patient's bile duct. When a pathologist made slides out of this tissue, the cavities disappeared-a mystery that was later found to be a outcome of the slide-making process.
In 2015, doctors called endoscopists, who peer inside the body using long, flexible tubes with cameras on them, found something unusual when they were using a new technology that adds a laser and a tiny microscope to light up living tissues inside a patient's bile duct. We know that build-up of fluid in such tissues leads to conditions such as oedema.
According to Theise, when they see tissues under the microscope, they are dead and dehydrated and thus this space is not visible.
"Those cracks are not artifacts", Theise said Tuesday.
"In describing this new layer of organised cells, the "interstitium", the researchers realised such tissue is the immediate route for cancer cells to leave their origin and migrate into the lymphatic vessels", he said. That's what they saw when they looked at it in the lab, outside the body, at least.
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