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Medicine Science

You Have Taste Receptors In Your Lungs 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-the-rest-of-us,-just-you dept.
timothy points out news of a study from the University of Maryland's School of Medicine that found bitter taste receptors on the smooth muscle lining airways in the lungs (abstract in Nature). Quoting: "The taste receptors in the lungs are the same as those on the tongue. The tongue’s receptors are clustered in taste buds, which send signals to the brain. The researchers say that in the lung, the taste receptors are not clustered in buds and do not send signals to the brain, yet they respond to substances that have a bitter taste. ... 'I initially thought the bitter-taste receptors in the lungs would prompt a "fight or flight" response to a noxious inhalant, causing chest tightness and coughing so you would leave the toxic environment, but that’s not what we found,' says Dr. Liggett. ... The researchers 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. They all opened the airway more extensively than any known drug that we have for treatment of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).'"
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You Have Taste Receptors In Your Lungs

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  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:16PM (#34021178)

    It's not very often that researchers stumble onto something cheap and simple that could potentially save hundreds of millions of lives. I sure hope it pans out in practice.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:48PM (#34021328)

    it would not only be safer for children and people in general but vastly cheaper.

    Cheaper?

    If it can't be patented and net drug companies billions of $$$; I doubt there will be a company to spend the millions for the research required to get "bitter-taste-based medication" through FDA approval.

    Once they have the patent on the method of operation ("bitter tasting substance used to treat COPD, or bitter tasting substance used to treat asthma by stimulating lung taste receptors"), they will charge the standard markups all proprietary drugs get.

    IOW -- it will probably be more expensive, or we'll probably never see a product based on that come to market that can be legally marketed as such. Just a bunch of studies that show the idea is promising.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @12:25AM (#34021494)

    It's not very often that researchers stumble onto something cheap and simple that could potentially save hundreds of millions of lives. I sure hope it pans out in practice.

    No, but it's every other week that some researcher thinks he has.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @12:30AM (#34021520) Homepage Journal
    The answer is obvious, the fish neuroeceptors bonded with those in your own brain and you are now part fish. Do you find yourself flopping about when you are removed from water? Do you find yourself capable of eating until your stomach literally explodes because you have no receptors that tell you that you're full? Do you find yourself inexplicably drawn to plastic castles? If so you are a fishman, you best be hanging around the basement of draculas castle attacking anyone with a whip and sen ding him flying back into the water.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @12:37AM (#34021552) Homepage Journal

    The neurotransmitters were ones like GABA and acetylcholine - both humans and fish produce and use them in our nerves.

    In other words, I was already part fish. Thanks for explaining my longtime attraction to plastic castles.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @02:03AM (#34021930) Journal

    It's not very often that researchers stumble onto something cheap and simple that could potentially save hundreds of millions of lives.

    Big Pharma + patents = perverse incentives
    There's no money to be made in taking something through the expense of clinical trials when the patent can easily be sidestepped.

  • by Interoperable (1651953) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @02:09AM (#34021956)

    Well, it's at least that often that a science journalist misrepresents a researcher's statements to make it sound like he thinks he has.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:11AM (#34022176)
    I doubt there's a reason for it in that sense. Things which don't hurt our capability to reproduce tend to just hang around until such time as they do hurt our chances to reproduce. It could for all we know just be a minor glitch causing the cells to migrate in a way which isn't necessary.

    I mean why do some people have trouble smelling sulfur and others don't. Why do some people retain the ability to wiggle their ears while others don't. Or for that matter have ear lobes. None of those things are particularly make or break it in the current environment, but who knows maybe if things change they'll be more important.
  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @03:59AM (#34022326)

    I'm guessing it would be patentable.

    An example:
    Finasteride was initially approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1992 under the brand name Proscar, a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In 1997, the FDA approved finasteride to treat male pattern baldness

    someone discovered that a 1 mg daily dose of a prostate cancer drug normally taken in 5mg doses for prostate cancer could treat baldness.

    The drug was out of patent for prostate cancer but the trials were done for baldness.

    he who does the trials gets the patent.

    If they did the trials for using a specific bitter substance for asthma then they'd probably get the patent.

  • Re:Cynical Me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by delinear (991444) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @07:31AM (#34023308)
    Good luck taking away people's coffee or cocoa beans.
  • Re:Coffee (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BobMcD (601576) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @09:43AM (#34024710)

    (I've always had the weirdest feeling of being able to taste cold air, when it gets down a little below freezing I experience a smoky sensation that doesn't seem to come from anywhere in particular)

    That's the moisture in your airways 'steaming up' due to contact with the cold. Same thing that you'd see if you exhaled into that same air, but on the inside...

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