Who would have thought that in 2017 scientists would be announcing the discovery of a previously unknown human organ?
Researchers have classified a brand-new organ inside our bodies, one that’s been hiding in plain sight in our digestive system this whole time.
The mesentery is hardly new – Leonardo da Vinci likely drew it. For centuries it was unfairly ignored as a type of insignificant attachment. Recent research has classified it as a previously unrecognized organ – the 79th known to medical science.
So what is the mesentery? It’s a double fold of peritoneum – the lining of the abdominal cavity – that attaches our intestine to the wall of our abdomen, and keeps everything locked in place.
“In the paper, we are now saying we have an organ in the body which hasn’t been acknowledged as such to date,” says J Calvin Coffey, professor of surgery at the University of Limerick’s Graduate Entry Medical School.
This discovery is the basis for a whole new area of surgery and science (mesenteric science?) and potential disease treatment. Coffey hopes that shining a light on a body part not normally so exposed could offer a new target in the fight against gut diseases like Crohn’s.
Already, how the digestive system is being taught to medical students around the world is changing.