A group of scientists from the Netherlands believes that they have found a new organ in the human body which was missed in the centuries of research. They said that they found the new organ while they were carrying out studies on prostate cancer.
The potential new organ is a pair of salivary glands in the skull of a human body where the throat meets the nasal cavity. The researchers believe that this organ is used to lubricate and moisten the throat’s upperparts. The team of researchers from the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NCI) accompanied by a group of researchers has published the study in the journal Radiotherapy and Oncology.
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The researchers have decided to name the new organ ‘tubarial glands’, which they discovered while they were scanning for tumorous growths. The researchers then inspected the neck and heads of not less than 100 other patients and discovered that all of the patients had the set of glands.
This discovery is inspiring; however, the authors of the study were a bit doubtful at first, according to Matthijs H. Valstar, the lead author and a surgeon at NCI. Valstar said that the researchers thought it was impossible to discover something like that in 2020 and believes that it is essential that the new medical finding is confirmed by replicating the study and testing several different patients.
The tubarial glands cannot be observed while using the old techniques of medical imaging including Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Computerized tomography scans (CT scans), and ultrasound, the authors said. The new organ was discovered while the doctors were using the new and advanced kind of scan named Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen Imaging using positron emission tomography (PSMA PET/CT), which is usually used to detect prostate cancer and its spread. This highly sensitive type of imaging can clearly detect salivary glands.
There are three groups of large salivary glands in a human body, however, they are not there, said Wouter Vogel, author of the study and a radiation oncologist at the NCI. He added that as far as the latest discoveries are concerned the only mucous or salivary glands that are in the nasopharynx are so small that they can only be seen through a microscope, and not more than 1000 are spread evenly within the mucosa.
A professor at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City and who wasn’t involved in the study, Joy Reidenberg said that most of the great scientific discoveries ever made were an incidental finding or came as a surprise. He added that it was fortunate that the researchers were concentrated enough to observe a mysterious brightness in the part of the body where no salivary glands were yet discovered.
It is still a matter for debate that the new organs discovered are completely new or a part of the organ system, said the study. The authors added that the findings by this study back the discovery of the tubarial glands as a new functional and anatomical entity.
No matter if the glands are described as a new or previously discovered organ, the authors believe that the findings have implications clinically for patients especially with neck and head cancer and those with tumors in the tongue or throat as radiotherapy can sometimes harm the salivary glands, which can lead to trouble swallowing, eating, and speaking because of dry mouth.