Modern science never ceases to amaze us! Just when you thought medical science had covered all the fundamental bases, BAM comes another researcher claiming that they have found a new, previously unclassified organ inside our bodies that has been hiding in plain sight this whole time.
The research is so groundbreaking that up til now we only know about the main structure of this new organ, and are yet to fully understand its functions. But the researchers hope that this could be the key to understanding and treating abdominal and digestive diseases with greater chances of success.
The organ is known as the mesentery and is discovered to be lying in our digestive systems. It was not undetected before, but it was thought to be made up of fragmented, separate structures. But the latest evidence presented in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology shows that it’s actually one, continuous organ.
J Calvin Coffey, a researcher from the University Hospital Limerick in Ireland, who was the lead in the discovery of the mesentery, said,
“In the paper, which has been peer reviewed and assessed, we are now saying we have an organ in the body which hasn’t been acknowledged as such to date,”
“The anatomic description that had been laid down over 100 years of anatomy was incorrect. This organ is far from fragmented and complex. It is simply one continuous structure.”
The new research has led medical students to be taught about the mesentery as a distinct organ. And even the world’s best-known series of medical textbooks, Gray’s Anatomy, has been updated to include the discovery.
What is the mesentery?
The mesentery is a double fold of the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the peritoneum. It is the coat that attaches our intestine to the walls of our abdomen and keeps everything secured in its place.
It is astonishing to know that the mesentery was originally identified by Leonardo da Vinci, but for centuries it was ignored as an insignificant attachment. In recent history, doctors studying the mesentery took it as a fragmented structure made out of separate sections and considered in unimportant.
The road to its discovery began in 2012 when Coffey and his colleagues came up with detailed microscopic examinations proving the mesentery to be a continuous structure. And they spend the last four years collecting further evidence to establish that mesentery can actually be classified as a separate distinct organ, finally publishing the findings in the latest paper.
This reclassification means we can work on improving the treatment of abdomen related diseases:
“When we approach it like every other organ… we can categorise abdominal disease in terms of this organ,” said Coffey.
You can see the new organ’s illustration below:
“Now we have established anatomy and the structure. The next step is the function. If you understand the function you can identify abnormal function, and then you have disease. Put them all together and you have the field of mesenteric science … the basis for a whole new area of science,” said Coffey. This is relevant universally as it affects all of us.”
The research has been published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.