A secret of the human body revealed through a tiny microscope

News 29 March, 2018
  • AFP

    Thursday, march 29, 2018 12:23

    Thursday, march 29, 2018 12:23

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    Paris | A mini microscope designed by a French company, has uncovered a structure of the human anatomy passed hitherto unnoticed, which could play a role in the spread of cancers.

    In a study published this week in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers in the us recount the discovery of what they see as a possible new body, the interstitium.

    If other scientists disagree with the term “organ”, which they considered exaggerated, this discovery could have implications for a better understanding of cancer.

    The interstitium is a vast network of tissues present under the skin, along some organs (lungs, digestive systems and urinary…) or around the arteries and veins.

    It was believed until then that these tissues were compact. In fact, according to this study, they consist of a multitude of compartments filled with fluid.

    The authors of the study compare these tissues to be “a highway of moving fluid,” which could thus promote the spread of cancer throughout the body.

    The structure of these tissues has remained unknown due to conventional techniques of microscopy. To observe the tissue under the microscope, it is harvested, it is cooked with chemicals and cut them into thin strips.

    Problem in the case of the interstitium: in this technique the empty of its fluids and crushes “like a building that collapses,” according to the statement of the authors of the study. Result: microscopically, these tissues appear to be compact, to be wrong.

    It is a new technique, developed by the French company Mauna Kea Technologies, which has allowed researchers to discover the true nature of these tissues. This technique, confocal laser endomicroscopy, is to place a tiny microscope directly in the body of patients.

    “There’s tissues in their natural environment, in vivo, allows physicians to significantly improve the diagnosis and treatment in a number of pathologies “, explains to the AFP Sacha Loiseau, ceo and founder of Mauna Kea Technologies.

    In the case of the interstitium, the discovery was made by chance during the examination of the biliary tract of a patient using this technique.

    It is based on the use of optical fiber combined with a system of laser scanning.

    “The doctor puts an endoscope in the patient’s body, and our small probe (of 0.8 to 2.5 mm depending on models) fits in the endoscope and is positioned on the desired place,” says Mr. Loiseau, whose company operates primarily in the United States and China.

    The indications for which this technology is the most widely used are gastro-esophageal cancer, cancer of the pancreas, bladder, lung, or chronic inflammatory diseases of the bowel such as Crohn’s disease.