Scientists May Have Discovered an Unknown Organ Hiding in the Throat
Oct 23 2020
The new discovery made by Vogel's team is much larger, showing what appears to be a previously overlooked pair of glands - ostensibly the fourth set of major salivary glands - located behind the nose and above the palate, close to the centre of the human head.
Until now, it was believed that this nasopharynx region hosted microscopic, diffuse, salivary glands, but, the new organ is about 1.5 inches (3.9 centimetres) in length on average.
This tracer binds well to the PSMA (prostate-specific membrane antigen) protein, which is elevated in prostate cancer cells. While the group surrenders that extra research on a bigger, more various partner will be expected to approve their discoveries, they state the revelation gives us another objective to abstain from during radiation therapies for patients with cancer, as salivary glands are profoundly helpless to harm from the treatment.
"The two new areas that lit up turned out to have other characteristics of salivary glands as well".
Researchers were using special technology called called PSMA PET/CT (prostate-specific membrane antigen imaging using positron emission tomography), which is created to look for tumorous growths.
"People have three sets of large salivary glands, but not there", explains radiation oncologist Wouter Vogel from the Netherlands Cancer Institute.
The new organ was reportedly detected while researchers at the Netherlands Cancer Institute were performing PSMA PET-CT scanning on a prostate cancer patient.
Radiotherapy can damage salivary glands, which can lead to dry mouth and trouble swallowing, speaking and eating. The scientists then looked at the head and neck scans of another 100 people they were treatingFor prostate cancer, separate the two bodies - a male and a female.
Dr. Alvand Hassankhani, a radiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times that there are thousands of small salivary glands in the human head in addition to the three known major glands.
The new glands have been catchily named the tubarial saliva glands. "So, imagine our surprise when we found these", Wouter Vogel, a researcher said, as reported by Hindustan Times. The glands' "location is not very accessible, and you need very sensitive imaging to detect" them, Vogel said. They are believed to be in the area where the nasal cavity and throat meet, according to a study published September 23 in the journal Radiotherapy and Oncology. Through their analysis, the authors concluded that the higher the level of radiation these newly-found areas were exposed to, the more severe were the complications they experienced later; much like what known salivary glands endure.
Why this discovery can be helpful for cancer patients This discovery is believed to be important for treating cancer patients.
"Our next step is to find out how best to preserve these new glands".
In an analysis of 723 patients who received radiation specifically targeting the area where the tubarial glands were found, those who received more radiation to the area were more likely to experience side effects.