Look down. See any belly fat? The answer should be yes, for everyone — because that fat pad isn’t just sitting there quietly. Some of it is actually part of an organ called the omentum. And the omentum — specifically, its immune cells — may be where researchers need to focus if they want to find new treatments for some stubborn cancers that have spread.
Researchers like Troy Randall hope that might be possible if we understand a bit better how the omentum works. Randall and his team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have looked at how omentum’s immune cells respond in ovarian cancer; they published a review paper about the organ’s immune system in Trends in Immunology in June.
The omentum, which sits on top of our stomach and intestines, is what probably keeps infections in those organs in check using the same kinds of immune cells that exist throughout the body — B cells, T cells, dendritic cells. These cells are found in groups known as “milky spots,” so named because they look like drops of milk in the omentum’s general yellow-ness.