Health Bitter taste receptors hold key to treating asthma

Bitter taste receptors hold key to treating asthma

More than 300 million people worldwide, including one-in-nine Australians, suffer from asthma.

Sufferers experience a wide range of debilitating, and at worst, life-threatening respiratory symptoms from a disease that can be controlled but not cured.

But a bitter taste in the mouth could be the secret to unlocking better and more effective long-term treatment.

Research from UTS shows your bitter taste receptors could reduce common asthma symptoms and prevent allergic inflammation and structural changes to the airways.

The research team induced allergic asthma in mice and tested the effects of chloroquine and quinine, substances that stimulate bitter taste receptors, on various features of the disease.

Dr Pawan Sharma and a team of US colleagues found that when activated, bitter substances not only reduced common symptoms of the disease in mice, but also prevented allergic inflammation and structural changes to the airways.

While current anti-asthma medication provides immediate relief, it does not deter structural changes to the airways, inflammation and mucus production.

“We do not have an effective anti-asthma therapy that targets disease progression. Our current research on taste receptors is crucial in identifying new classes of drugs that can be an effective asthma treatment option in future,” Dr Sharma said.

Dr Sharma will collaborate with US researchers to synthesise new bitter compounds that may be inhaled by humans.

The research was conducted by UTS, the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Thomas Jefferson University (USA) and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (USA).

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