No one was looking for the interstitium, as the new quasi-organ is called, because nobody knew it was there, at least not in a complex form published in a study.
As with many breakthroughs in medicine and science, it was – to paraphrase Louis Pasteur's oft-quoted dictum – a case of chance that favored the prepared one.
In 2015, a pair of doctors at New York's Beth Israel Medical Center, David Carr-Locke and Petros Benias, found something unexpected while using the high-tech endoscopic probe to look for signs of cancer in a patient's bile duct search. 19659005] There was on a screen, as clear as the day, a lattice-like layer of liquid-filled cavities that had nothing to do with the anatomical chapters of medical textbooks.
"These have no obvious correlate to known structures," they noted dryly in the journal Scientific Reports .
And then the mystery deepened.
The physicians showed the images to a pathologist, Neil Theise, who removed a thin patch of stain. The patient prepares the kind of microscope slides that scientists have been looking at with microscopes for centuries.
But the novel layer of tissue just was not there – or at least it was not visible.
Sacha Loiseau, Founder and Director of Mauna Kea Technologies,
"The classic microscope on a lab table magnifies dead tissue from a biopsy that has been dehydrated and treated with chemicals," he told AFP.
In other words, the web of liquid bubbles that were visible in the patient's body was pankracked like a collapsed building in the slides, leaving little trace.
A "Street of Liquid"
"This solidified a fluid-filled tissue throughout the body into biopsy slides," Theise said in a statement.
"Our research corrects this to extend the anatomy of most tissues."
The probe combines approximately 30,000 optics fibers, which are surmounted by a camera that is barely larger than the head of a needle. Lasers illuminate the tissue and sensors analyze the reflected pattern.
"We've reinvented the microscope so it can be inserted into a patient's body to observe living tissue in its natural environment," Loiseau said.
The result is an in vivo virtual biopsy.
The newly discovered network of fluid-filled pockets held by collagen proteins, which are more rigid and elastic, can act as a shock absorber. Researchers found that organs, muscles and vessels undergo their daily movements.
Once they knew what to look for, scientists found interstitium throughout the body: below the surface of the skin, the digestive tract, in the lungs and urinary tract, and even surrounding arteries and veins.
Layers that were long considered dense connective tissue, it turned out, were indeed interconnected and fluid-filled compartments.
Described as "the mobile fluid highway," The braid "might be important in cancer metastases," the study suggested.
Scientists have long known that half of the fluid in the body occurs within cells and about 14 percent in the heart, blood vessels, and lymphatic system. 19659005] The remaining The fluid is "interstitial" or between the cells, and the new study argues that the interstitium should be considered as an independent organ – in fact one of the largest in the body.
Organ or not, "This discovery has the potential to drive dramatic advances in medicine, including the possibility that direct removal of interstitial fluid becomes a meaningful diagnosis," said Thise.
The newly discovered "organ" was missing after the standard method for visualizing the anatomy
Petros C. Benias et al. Structure and Distribution of an Unrecognized Interstitium in Human Tissues, Scientific Reports (2018). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-018-23062-6, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23062-6