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Discovery of taste receptors in the lungs could help people with asthma breathe easier
Date:10/24/2010

ir discovery is the unexpected role that the mineral calcium plays when the lung's taste receptors are activated. The study's principal author, Deepak A. Deshpande, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is an expert in how calcium controls muscles. "We always assumed that increased calcium in the smooth muscle cell caused it to contract, but we found that bitter compounds increase calcium and cause relaxation of airway muscle in a unique way," says Dr. Deshpande. "It appears that these taste receptors are wired to a special pool of calcium that is right at the edge of these cells," he says.

"The work of this team exemplifies what it takes to make real improvements in treating certain diseases," says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "These researchers were willing to take chances and ask questions about an unlikely concept. Why are taste receptors in the lungs? What do they do? Can we take advantage of them to devise a new therapy? In the end, their discoveries are in the best tradition of scientific research."


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Contact: Sharon Boston
sboston@umm.edu
410-328-8919
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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