J Calvin Coffey is the man of the hour! He is a researcher at University of Limerick in Ireland being credited with discovering Mesentery – a new organ inside the human body! His research published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, will now have medical students studying the mesentery as a distinct organ. The organ up until now was considered to be just a few fragmented structures in the digestive system.
But now scientists say that it is in fact a single, continuous organ. However we still have to understand the function of the mesentery. Even so the discovery opens up “a whole new area of science,” says the discoverer. He adds “When we approach it like every other organ… we can categorise abdominal disease in terms of this organ.”
He maintains “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.” Medical students and researchers can now investigate what role the mesentery might play in abdominal diseases, which could ultimately lead to new treatments.
The organ in question is actually a double fold of peritoneum, lining of the abdominal cavity that holds intestines to the wall of the abdomen to keep it all in place. The fact is that this part of the human body was accurately described by none other than Leonardo da Vinci in 1508! However the same was ignored throughout the centuries, until now. Doctors thought that it was a fragmented structure made of separate sections and assumed it to be unimportant.
However since 2012 when Coffey and his research team undertook detailed microscopic examinations, the mesentery was found to be actually a continuous structure. Over the past four years, they gathered further evidence that the mesentery should actually be classified as a distinct organ on its own, and this last research paper makes it official. Gray’s Anatomy, the world’s most famous medical textbook, has been updated to include the new definition.
The discovery certainly does not change the structure that’s been inside our bodies all along, But re-classification creates a whole new field of medical science that could improve our health outcomes. This means that medical students and researchers can investigate whatever role the mesentery may be playing on abdominal diseases.
Elaborating further Coffey says, “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”. Just goes to show that no matter how advanced science is there’s always more to learn and discover within our bodies.