Scientists discover new organ in the human throat
While studying prostate cancer, Scientists discover new organ in the human throat. Scientists in Netherlands were shocked to come across a potential new organ in the human throat while researching for prostate cancer. Until now, there were three known large salivary glands in humans: one under the tongue, one under the jaw and one at the back of the jaw, behind the cheek.
Researchers at the Netherlands Cancer Institute have identified a set of salivary glands deep in the upper part of the throat and have named them “tubarial salivary glands”.
Validity of this news-
According to a study published in the journal Radiotherapy and Oncology, the researchers confirmed the presence of the glands after examining at least 100 patients.
What are these tubarial salivary glands?
The newly discovered glands are about 1.5 inches (3.9 centimetres) in length on average and are located over a piece of cartilage called the torus tubarius. According to the researchers, the glands probably lubricate and moisten the upper throat behind the nose and mouth.
Importance of this discovery-
The discovery may be important for cancer treatment. So far, this nasopharynx region behind the nose was not thought to host anything but microscopic, diffuse, salivary glands.
How were these glands discovered?
The new organ was discovered while scientists were studying prostate cancer cells using PSMA PET-CT technology- a combination of CT scans and positron emission tomography (PET); which is good in detecting salivary gland tissues. In this technique, a radioactive “tracer” is injected into the patient that binds to the protein PSMA, which is elevated in prostate cancer cells.
Doctors using radiotherapy for treating cancers in the head and neck try to avoid the main salivary glands as damaging them could make eating, speaking or swallowing difficult for patients.
However, in this case, the newly discovered glands were getting hit by radiation as doctors were not aware of their existence in the human body. Thus, the new discovery may result in fewer side effects for cancer patients.
What are the next steps of the scientists?
Their next step is to find out how they can effectively spare these new glands and in which patients. If they can do this, patients may experience less side effects, which will benefit their overall quality of life after treatment.
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