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The omentum — an elastic apron of fat that stretches over our intestines, liver and stomach — may hold the key to battling obesity and cancer cell growth while simultaneously serving as the body's first line of defense against deadly toxins and infection, researchers are discovering.

Key functions:

  • The omentum secretes hormones related to obesity and collects information about the health of the abdomen. However, scientists are still struggling to understand how this apron of fat is related to obesity as it serves in its protector role.
  • It also appears to serve as the first stop inside our body for cells, antigens and bacteria before our immune system jumps into action by, for instance, releasing inflammatory molecules.

How it works: The telltale sign that the omentum is about to trigger the body's immune system response is the formation of small, white filters among the fat cells (called "milky spots"). We actually develop such "milky spots" on our omentum even before infectious bacteria shows up — a clear indication that this strange organ is central to our body's immune response.

What it gets wrong: Unfortunately, the omentum makes exactly the wrong decision with cancer cells, researchers said in the study. The omentum tolerates the cancer cells, rather than starting an immune response against them. What's worse, they actually trap some types of cancer cells and allow them to metastasize and grow more aggressively.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”