Scientists accidentally happened against the pair of organs, which are located in your face
You’d think at this point we’d know everything there is to about the human body – after all, humans are in and out of MRI machines and cut open every single day.
Well, as it turns out, we’ve got a whole organ that scientists had no idea about until they stumbled across it accidentally.
Not only that, it comes in a pair and they are located in your face.
Oncologists were conducting cancer research earlier this year when they accidentally discovered the ‘tubarial glands’.
The team from the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam had been working hard to discover more about cancers that occur in the head and neck when a scan revealed an unfamiliar part of the face, reports ExtremeTech.
Patients had been injected with radioactive glucose before their scans to highlight tumours by glowing brightly.
However, as the team scanned all 100 of their patients, the same two areas in the head lit up over and over again.
It was an entirely new organ, described in the journal Radiotherapy and Oncology, as a set of salivary glands located in the back of the nasopharynx (the upper part of the throat behind the nose).
The team have named the pair of organs the ‘tubarial glands’.
“People have three sets of large salivary glands, but not there,” study author and radiation oncologist Wouter Vogel explained.
“As far as we knew, the only salivary or mucous glands in the nasopharynx are microscopically small, and up to 1000 are evenly spread out throughout the mucosa. So, imagine our surprise when we found these.”
The discovery has been incredibly relevant to the team’s mission, radiotherapy, which is used to kill cancer, but can cause issues within salivary glands.
Thanks to uncovering these ‘tubarial glands’, radiotherapists will now know to avoid delivering radiation to this portion of the body to avoid complications.