Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, made a surprising find of taste receptors in the lungs which possibly aide those with asthma a more effective way to bring breathing back to normal during an attack.
Experiments conducted with mice and human tissue had showed that the receptors, which are alike those located on the tongue, react to bitter staples by alerting constricted muscles within the lungs to relax which causes tight airways to reopen in a matter of seconds.
These results had been reported on Sunday, in the online journal of Nature Medicine. This new finding could bring about the developing of new asthma inhalers in about fifty years according to Dr. Stephen B. Liggett, lead researcher.
Dr. Liggett, is a professor of medicine and physiology with the university, he is also the director of the universities Cardiopulmonary Genomics Program. Dr. Liggett has been doing research for thirty years and as he states he has never found anything surprising as this discovery which has this much possibility to help patients. Dr. Liggett wishes this discovery to go all the way to aide patients.
The American Lung Associations, Dr. Norman H. Edelman, pulmonologist and chief medical officer, states that this find is not a cure. It does not approach the inflammation of the lungs in asthma sufferers, or the fundamental cause of the disease. However, it does bring a new way to open airways which makes it exciting. Dr. Edelman notes that it has been a long time since there has been a new way to treat asthma. This finding possibly can be of value to a lot of persons who have asthma.
During an asthmatic attack, the easiest thing like drawing breath can be a drawn-out struggle which Dr. Liggett compares to “breathing through a straw”. Automatically muscles in the lungs tighten, narrowing the tubes referred to as bronchioles which carry oxygen to the blood stream.
Dr. Liggett states it is a very frightening experience, that you see in the eyes of a person when they cannot get a breath., Dr. Liggett is also asthmatic. During a severe attack, a person can become exhausted by the attempt and begin to lose oxygenation. If the airways will not reopen, the person can die.
Currently, long and short term acting inhalers are relied upon by 23 million persons with asthma in the United States, seven million of which are children. The inhalers belong to the group of beta agonists. All inhalers react the same, they perform on a specific receptor located in the lung muscles referred to as beta 2 adrenergic receptor.
Dr. Liggett states he is aware of the need for additional treatment options. He takes five different classes of medications for his asthma and admits he is only in partial control. He goes on to state that he knows there are large parts of the population that can benefit from a more effective treatment.
Spokesperson, Mike Tringale, of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, states that today’s asthma are old however, asthmatics are using them, they are maintaining more active lives and death rates have decrease. He does agree that asthma management is at a halt and there is room for improvement.
That is the reason why Dr. Liggett and his associates along with researchers from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, started to search for new receptors in the lungs that possibly provide better ways to dilate constricted airways.
Researchers investigated by grinding up lung muscle tissue, extracting its RN, then searching for genetic signatures of the entire muscles chemical receptors. In the information, it was quickly noticed the beta 2 receptors which was already known to cause lung constriction, and among the others they noted one rarity, a bitter taste receptor known from the tongue.
It is not really a taste bud. Taste buds are clusters of receptors on the tongue which are in association to the brain. The taste receptor on the lung muscles are structurally the same, but communicate with muscle cells.
This did not appear to be what the research team was searching for. Scientists presume that the receptors of the tongue for bitter tastes developed to notify our ancestors of dangerous plant toxins. If you chewed on a plant toxin and it tasted bitter, it would be spit out.
Dr. Liggett stated they had assumed this was another prevention mechanism. Possibly it caused restriction in the lungs to provide protection from inhalation of dangerous substances.
Dr. Liggett goes on further to state there was about 10 classes of receptors they had found interesting and this one was at the end of the list. Therefore, the information sat at the laboratory for about one year before they had started to act upon it.
At last, postdoctoral fellow, Elizabeth McIlmoyle, had suggested to attempt to stimulate the bitter taste receptor with saccharin. Even though it is a sweetener it does give a bitter after taste.
The saccharin had set off a large release of calcium in the cells. However, that chemical reaction was a long response to signal muscles to tighten. The researchers believed they were still searching for a receptor that started lung constriction.
When they tried bitter aerosols on real constricted airways in mice or on the sections of human airways, just taken from cancer patients, they had been amazed to notice that the lung muscles did the exact opposite. They had become relaxed by a large margin. Within a matter of seconds, the airways had expanded to 90% of their original amount. This was three times greater than with the beta 2 agonist inhaler.
Dr. Edleman, remarks that the discovery points out the vital role of chance discovery in science. No one would have thought that lungs have bitter taste receptors which work in this manner and the scientists deserve a round of applause.
It is still not certain why mice and humans along with the possibility of other species would have developed receptors in the lungs that open airways in a reaction to bitter inhaled substances.
Dr. Liggett and researchers reason in the paper that it may have come about as a mechanism for surviving rounds of pneumonia or bronchitis. The bacteria that causes pneumonia secrets a substance which set off these receptors. This secretion is bitter and would allow airways to open which would let the person cough up bacteria-laden fluids in the lungs, speeding up recovery.
Many years of research and development along with clinical trails with human subjects are ahead and Dr. Liggett notes there is not shortages of compounds in which to try. One of the best formulations was found. It without doubt would become one of the main treatments for asthma. It would definitely be another treatment for those who do not respond well to conventional treatment.
Dr. Liggett concludes that it should be effective for all types of triggers including allergens, air pollution and viral infections. Diseases of other types such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, could possibly be less receptive where there is greater damage to the lungs.
There is a requirement for better bronchodilators which is growing in numbers currently.
In the Baltimore area, there is an asthma epidemic and they are noticing an association between obesity and asthma. Being able to achieve a full breath and being able to actively perform activities in exercise is vital to improving overall health care states Dr. Liggett.
Many persons with asthma currently use alternative treatments to alleviate their asthma symptoms. Below are a few of the chosen alternative treatments.
Chiropractic is the number one choice especially among parents of children who have asthma. Among the numerous research done in the relation of chiropractic care and asthma results have indicated on a average remarked improvements of 87 to 100 percent. This included improved in symptoms, and noticeable decreases in the use of asthma attack medications. Maintain improvement after receiving chiropractic treatments has been noted to last for up to two years.
Based on present information chiropractic care represents a safe non-pharmaceutical treatment which has been noted to decrease respiratory efforts and decrease in the number of asthmatic attacks.
Chiropractic correction of vertebral subluxation has reduced or even eliminated the need for medications and has been noted to ease severity of attacks.
Acupuncture is best known for its ability to ease pain. However, in some cases it has been noted to help with asthma. There have been several studies in medical journals taking note of the use of acupuncture and asthma. Acupuncture can be beneficial in the treatment of asthma.
Reports have noted that acupuncture is effective for those persons with mild attacks and is greatly receptive by children. After ten weeks of acupuncture some persons do note remarked improvement in their asthmatic symptoms.
There is a positive study on Chinese herb Xifukang. This herb was noted to promote blood circulation, increase ventilation, maintain immune functioning, protect dust cells and enhance lung clearance.
Other herbs used for asthma have included:
Ching Fei Xi Huo taken with dry cough pills in the treatment of with asthma that has little or no phlegm or think green phlegm affected by body heat.
Ping Chuan Wan and dry cough pills for asthma in existence since birth or result of lung damage from cold or flu.
There are numerous alternative treatments for asthma. They can be found at places such as Holistic Online and many others. You can also ask your health practitioners for recommendations.Sources:
Internet Health Library