ATS 2011, DENVER Researchers in Baltimore have identified new compounds whichrelax airway muscles and may provide relief from shortness of breath for patients with COPD and asthma. The bitter-tasting compounds are at least as, if not more, effective than currently available agents used to manage these diseases, and may present new options for treatment.
The study will be presented at the ATS 2011 International Conference in Denver.
"We have identified compounds that are more potent than our previously identified set of compounds, paving the way for development of bronchodilators for treating asthma and COPD," said study author Kathryn Robinett, MD, pulmonary and critical care fellow at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "These compounds represent a new class of bronchodilator that work through an entirely different mechanism than beta-agonists like albuterol, salmeterol and formoterol."
Bitter taste receptors on taste buds of the tongue are thought to have evolved to warn people that they may be ingesting a toxic substance, Dr. Robinett explained. Previous studies revealed these receptors are also present on the smooth muscle surrounding the airways, which constricts in patients with asthma and COPD, reducing the size of the airway and making breathing difficult.
"We had been looking for airway smooth muscle receptors that, when activated, can relax this muscle for the past five years, and we were excited to find compounds that caused profound relaxation, in both mouse and human airways," she said.
For their study, the researchers examined compounds known to be bitter suggesting they may be effective in relaxing these airway muscles. Once potential compounds were identified, the researchers administered these compounds to mouse airways to examine their effects.
They found that bitter compounds were at least as effective as beta-agonists in relaxing smooth airway muscle. Relaxation of active te
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American Thoracic Society