Washington: American scientists have found taste receptors in human lungs similar to those on the tongue, a discovery which they say could revolutionise the treatment of asthma and other obstructive lung diseases.University of Maryland researchers who accidentally found the taste receptors in the lungs said they play a key role in regulating airway contraction and relaxation.The airways are the pathways that move air in and out of the lungs, one of several critical steps in the process of delivering oxygen to cells throughout the body. In asthma, the smooth muscle airways contract or tighten, impeding the flow of air, causing wheezing and shortness of breath.
They found that the bitter compounds opened the airway more profoundly than any known drug used for treating asthma could have.According to the researchers, there are thousands of compounds that activate the body`s bitter taste receptors but are not toxic in appropriate doses. Many are synthetic agents, developed for different purposes, and others come from natural origins, such as certain vegetables, flowers, berries and trees.The team tested a few standard bitter substances known to activate these receptors. "It turns out that the bitter compounds worked the opposite way from what we thought," saidDr Liggett. "They all opened the airway more profoundly than any known drug that we have for treatment of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)." PTI
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