There’s a Previously Undiscovered Organ in Your Body, And It Could Explain How Cancer Spreads

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Ever heard of the interstitium?

No? That’s OK, you’re not alone — scientists hadn’t either. Until recently.

And, hey, guess what — you’ve got one! The interstitium is your newest organ. Scientists identified it for the first time because they are better able to observe living tissues at a microscopic scale, according to a recent study published in Scientific Reports,

Scientists had long believed that connective tissue surrounding our organs was a thick, compact layer. That’s what they saw when they looked at it in the lab, outside the body, at least. But in a routine endoscopy (exploration of the gastrointestinal tract), a micro camera revealed something unexpected: When observed in a living body, the connective tissue turned out to be “an open, fluid-filled space supported by a lattice made of thick collagen bundles,” pathologist and study author Neil Theise told Research Gate. This network of channels is present throughout the body and works as a soft, elastic cushion, protecting the organs from external shocks as the body moves.

Theise suspects the sampling procedure used to make slides, previously the only way for scientists to inspect the tissue in detail, did change the specimens’ shape. “Just taking a bite of tissue from this space allows the fluid in the space to drain and the supporting collagen bundles to collapse like the floors of a collapsing building,” he said.

Researchers could see tiny cracks in the tissue under the microscope, but they thought those cracks happened when the tissue was pulled too hard as it was loaded onto slides. “But these were not artifacts,” Theise said. “These were the remnants of the collapsed spaces. They had been there all the time. But it was only when we could look at living tissue that we could see that.”

But the interstitium isn’t just the “space between cells.” Theise and his collaborators think it should be reclassified as a proper organ because of its unique properties and structure which, Theise said, are “highly specific and dependent on the unique structures and cell types that form it.”

They had been there all the time. But it was only when we could look at living tissue that we could see that.

Better understanding of how our bodies work is never a bad thing. But scientists speculate that these useful properties could also work against us, allowing cancerous cells to spread throughout the body.

Theise’s team found that in patients with some types of malignant cancers, cells could leave the tissues where they originated and leak into these channels, eventually contaminating the lymphatic system. “Once they get in, it’s like they’re on a water slide,” the pathologist told New Scientist. “We have a new window on the mechanism of tumor spread.”

With further analysis of the fluid traveling across the interstitium, the researchers hope they may be able to detect cancer much earlier than they can today.

The post There’s a Previously Undiscovered Organ in Your Body, And It Could Explain How Cancer Spreads appeared first on Futurism.

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Google Maps two-wheelers mode spreads to Indonesia

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There are many cities around the world where traffic is insane and getting around on a motorcycle is faster, more convenient for parking, and cheaper than buying and maintaining a car, not to mention the gas prices. But motorcycle drivers often don’t really know which road to take on Google Maps: they’re not cars but they’re not bicycles either. Last December, Google Maps started rolling out a two-wheeler mode in India that helps motorcyclists find roads specifically tailored for them.

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Google Pay on Wear OS officially spreads to three new countries

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When you’re itching to try out a new feature on your favorite mobile device, there’s little that sucks more than facing a geographical restriction; while your friends abroad are playing with the latest and greatest tech, you’re stuck twiddling your thumbs and waiting until the powers that be decide to let you in on the action. Earlier today we noted that one of these restrictions appeared to be lessening, as some Huawei Watch 2 users who were shut out when an update disabled Google Pay (then Android Pay) outside the US and the UK started getting their access back—that was a clue, but not the whole story.

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Google Pay on Wear OS officially spreads to three new countries was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Google Station spreads its public Wi-Fi love to Mexico

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It’s really easy to take internet connectivity for granted: between increasingly capable cellular networks, and high-speed private Wi-Fi access points in our homes and workplaces, staying connected 24/7 is more effortless than it’s ever been. At least, that may be the case for some of us, but wireless infrastructure varies wildly around the globe, and there are millions of fellow users out there who would no doubt love to see their local internet access seriously overhauled.

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Massive Study of Fake News May Reveal Why It Spreads So Easily

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Fake News

The problem of so-called fake news is well known, yet we seem no closer to solving it. Social media is a major source of these falsehoods. Twitter, in particular, is responsible for much of their spread, so it doesn’t help that the platform’s executives recently dropped the ball, so to speak, on the whole issue.

Now, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are taking a look at the issue in one of the largest studies to date. Their findings suggest that humans – not bots – are largely to blame.

For their study, appearing in the March 2018 issue of the journal Science, the MIT team attempted to make sense of how and why fake news and misinformation spreads fast via Twitter. Specifically, they investigated how mechanisms in Twitter, coupled with peculiarities in human behavior on social media, make it easy for fake news to spread.

Fighting Fake News: Can Technology Stem the Tide?
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For their study, the team looked at a sample of some 126,000 bits of “news” tweeted by 3 million people more than 4.5 million times between 2006 and 2017.

“We define news as any story or claim with an assertion in it and a rumor as the social phenomena of a news story or claim spreading or diffusing through the Twitter network,” they wrote in the study. “That is, rumors are inherently social and involve the sharing of claims between people. News, on the other hand, is an assertion with claims, whether it is shared or not.”

Next, the researchers separated the news into two categories: false and true. To do this, they used six independent fact-checking organizations whose classifications showed a strong agreement.

Spreading Like Wildfire

After that, they examined how likely a piece of news was to create a “cascade” of retweets on the social networking platform.

Surprisingly, news categorized as false or fake was 70 percent more likely than true news to receive a retweet. “Political” fake news spread three times faster than other kinds, and the top 1 percent of retweeted fake news regularly diffused to at least 1,000 people and sometimes as many as 100,000.

True news, on the other hand, hardly ever reached more than 1,000 people.

The researchers also found a connection between the “novelty” of a bit of news and the likelihood that a Twitter user retweeted it.

In a study of 5,000 users, they looked at a random sample of tweets each user may have seen in the 60 days prior to retweeting a rumor. According to their analysis, false news was more novel than true news, and users were far more likely to retweet a tweet that was “measurably more novel.”

The emotional response a tweet generated also played a role in user engagement. Fake news generated replies showing fear, disgust, and surprise. True news inspired anticipation, sadness, joy, and trust. These emotions could play a role in a person’s decision to retweet a piece of news.

This spreading of misinformation isn’t due to bots, either – Vosoughi and his team used an algorithm to remove all the bots before conducting their analysis. When they factored the bots into the study, the researchers found that the bots didn’t distinguish between fake news and the truth.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, robots accelerated the spread of true and false news at the same rate, implying that false news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it,” they wrote in the study.

Just the Beginning

The MIT study isn’t the only fake news-related piece in the March 2018 issue of Science. It also includes a separate Policy Forum article co-authored by Filippo Menczer, a professor in the Indiana University School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.

In that article, Menczer and a number of other researchers, scholars, and scientists call for more large-scale scientific investigations into fake news, like this new study from MIT.

“What we want to convey most is that fake news is a real problem, it’s a tough problem, and it’s a problem that requires serious research to solve,” said Menczer in a press release.

While the political repercussions of fake news are quite obvious, the phenomenon has affected various other discussions. As Menczer and his colleagues point out in their commentary, topics of concern to the public, such as vaccinations and nutrition, are susceptible to fake news, too.

“The challenge is there are so many vulnerabilities we don’t yet understand and so many different pieces that can break or be gamed or manipulated when it comes to fake news,” Menczer said in the press release. “It’s such a complex problem that it must be attacked from every angle.”

A good place to start that attack is with more studies like the one out of MIT.

The post Massive Study of Fake News May Reveal Why It Spreads So Easily appeared first on Futurism.

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