A new organ has been discovered hiding inside the human body. Known as the mesentery, it was previously thought to be just a few fragmented structures in the digestive system. But scientists have realized it is in fact one, continuous organ.
Although its function is still unclear, the discovery opens up a whole new area of science, according to J Calvin Coffey, a researcher at the University Hospital Limerick who first discovered it. “When we approach it like every other organ… we can categorize abdominal disease in terms of this organ,” he said. “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.”
The organ is a double fold of peritoneum – the lining of the abdominal cavity – that holds our intestine to the wall of our abdomen. It was described by Leonardo da Vinci in 1508, but it has been ignored throughout the centuries, until now.
In the journal “The Lance Gastroenterology & Hepatology” states that the newly classified organ, the mesentery, had been hiding in plain sight in our digestive systems for more than 100 years. “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.”
Now, official medical books are literally being re-written to include the new organ, which had previously been believed to simply contain fragments from other organs.
Beyond being a new discovery, Coffey says that medical students are now formally studying the still little-understood organ, opening up potential for new disease treatments. “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,” he said.