This week, the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) treated a patient with stem cells from his salivary glands. UMCG claims to be the first hospital in the Netherlands to perform this treatment.
Last Wednesday, a 43-year-old man received treatment. A tumor was found on the tongue earlier this year. He was operated on at UMCG, during which part of his salivary glands were removed. Stem cells were grown from the removed salivary glands.
With those transplanted mini salivary glands, or salivary gland organelles, the man restored his own cells through an injection. With this, the salivary glands should function again and not suffer from dry mouth.
The hospital writes that about 2,500 people develop cancer in the head and neck region each year. Many patients can be treated with radiation, but in 40% of them, the salivary glands no longer function properly after treatment.
As a result, they experience dry mouth, have difficulty chewing and swallowing and have less taste. It is also often difficult to speak and teeth are damaged.
It remains to be seen if the treatment will work. Rob Kobis, professor of radiotherapy at UMCG, hopes to be able to figure this out next year.
“This study should serve as ‘proof of principle’ that such treatment is possible and safe. If we find a positive effect, we will treat in a follow-up study patients with other tumor sites who are also at risk of developing xerostomia after radiotherapy.”
“If successful, the so-called organoid technology could also be applied to other tissues.”
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