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You Have Taste Receptors In Your Lungs

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the not-the-rest-of-us,-just-you dept.

Medicine 223

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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That explains my preference (4, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 4 years ago | (#34021102)

For Dunhill over Pariament and Davidoff over Benson & Hedges!

Re:That explains my preference (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34021272)

Look, you fucking neo-Nazi Jew hater, I don't know what your problem is, but you seriously need to get Jeff's COCK out of your mouth before I break the news to your wifey. Jeff is MINE, um-kay? Does your high-school football team son know you're a FAG? Huh? Because if I catch you blowing my man again, he sure will, along with the rest of your son's school. Cunt.

Re:That explains my preference (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34022198)

you seem like a JR regular. you're such a 'phobe. god hates you, and what's more, god is a black gay woman. so there you go sunshine, your calling in life is to be hated for being a hater. now make me a god damned fucking sandwich you bigoted asshole!

Maybe some help for Asthmatics (1)

meerling (1487879) | about 4 years ago | (#34021108)

Let's see what they come up with from this.

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (4, Interesting)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | about 4 years ago | (#34021188)

Since it uses a completely different mechanism than current drugs, which relax the bronchial muscles directly, and works better as well, it would not only be safer for children and people in general but vastly cheaper.

I wonder if this has any bearing on how hot toddy's work?

_

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (1)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | about 4 years ago | (#34021472)

You are so right. My first draft included some not very polite references to Pharmacorps and their practices. But since those always seem to incite a flame war I opted for less fuel.

And getting it by the FDA is going to be as much a pain as you indicated, not to mention that there will likely be some "incentives" to the FDA director/testers to ignore, delay, lose the testing protocols for any product based on this discovery that did make it that far.

Likely it will be other countries that move forward with making this available to their people, and in the US it will get stopped at the boarder as an illegal pharmaceutical.

_

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (1, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (2, Interesting)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022918)

Well, anyone with an SVN (small volume nebulizer) could test this at home... two issues would be remembering that sour != bitter and selecting a safe bitter testing substance.

Tonic water contains a small amount of quinine, which is considered bitter. That might be an interesting development, Schweppes for COPD.

Of course I'm not suggesting that anyone with a health issue such as COPD should undertake such home tests. If, as you suggest, other countries found effective therapies, it would be hard to stop the many home SVN owners from following up if the substance was common...

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (4, Interesting)

Stile 65 (722451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34023034)

The abstract says that saccharin was tested. That's a very easy to get substance.

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34022196)

"Bitter powder" costs almost nothing compared to current medications. If you could cut the cost but KEEP price for your product,

you get increased profit.

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022960)

While you are correct, it might also be so simple that you can whip up an herbal extract and put it in an atomizer. I suspect that a water-based extract of some bitter herb is all that is necessary, plus perhaps a tiny smidge of citric acid or alcohol for freshness (don't get carried away, kids!)

The expensiveness and homicidal dreams of anti-malaria medication don't prevent a tea made from olive leaves from curing malaria. Fucking Pliny knew about this if that helps you understand how old it is, yet today we're using harmful bullshit to treat it instead.

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (1)

sempir (1916194) | about 4 years ago | (#34021468)

AM I being a naive old man by seeing the Pharma companies taking this and screwing around with it till the end product costs twice as much as what is presently available?

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (3, Interesting)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | about 4 years ago | (#34022006)

No, a naive man would believe the advertising by the Pharmacorps that they only have the best interests of the public at heart.

I would call your observation accurate and realistic. If they can they will profit from this as much as possible, if they can not they will do everything they can to bury this or ensure that only they can control the distribution channels, which they will then manipulate to either make it impossible to get or cost so much that no one can afford it. Then they will stop distributing it "because there is no demand".

_

Let me just point out... (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#34022184)

...that PharmaCorp, if it is indeed to turn this into a dilation "drug", will have to jump through many very expensive hoops in the form of tests, hearings, and so forth. It will cost them a lot to do that. So, one can expect the price to initially reflect an attempt to recoup those expenses.

In the meantime, surely there are enough hints here for home remedies:

  • "same" bitter receptors as on the tongue.
  • "same" materials that stimulate the tongue
  • "better dilation than drugs"

I mean, really... if this doesn't spawn a series of home remedies, of which the public will quickly determine which ones work (and which ones kill or have nasty side effects), then the whole "home remedy" movement should probably go hide under some crystal pyramids.

It's not like you can't obtain a vaporizer, or any number of other tools you might need for such antics. I suspect most of them would already be in the bathroom, medicine chest, and kitchen of any well equipped home.

And there are many home remedies that work very well indeed. Cayenne pepper included in various home-made candies will do more for a sore throat than many OTC remedies; A Tums, intended for tummy acid issues, will do wonders for many cramping episodes, as will large amounts of milk or other calcium-rich substances; Etc. If the report is accurate, perhaps we'll have something else to add to the list of "here, try this" home remedies.

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (4, Interesting)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022690)

AM I being a naive old man watching people complain about companies who save millions of people's lives and improves the lives of millions of others evert day, and all they take in return is paper with patterns painted on it.

Seriously, I spend more on coffee than Singulair, but the later is by any definition, a miracle drug.

Grow up. If you don't like them making all that money off the hard working backs of all those poor people you pretend to know, BUY SHARES.

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 4 years ago | (#34021482)

I wonder if this has any bearing on how hot toddy's work?

Maybe if you make it wrong. If you make it "right," the booze just makes you forget that you feel sick.

not really (1)

batistuta (1794636) | about 4 years ago | (#34022164)

I'm sure someone already patented this, so they will claim money from every person that reacts in this way.

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34022798)

Wake up and smell the coffee!

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (1, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 4 years ago | (#34021190)

Yes, throw away that old inhaler! Just inhale this LEMON or this sour bomb [alibaba.com] and breathe your worries away!

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (2, Informative)

robbak (775424) | about 4 years ago | (#34021200)

Sour and Bitter are two different tastes, but that's kind of the idea!

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 years ago | (#34021566)

I had childhood asthma and I could trigger a mild attack by eating a pickled onion, I passed on the genetics for this strange reaction to my oldest son who also had childhood asthma.

Re:Maybe some help for Asthmatics (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022698)

Sulfoxides plus the brine to make them into a nice vapour.

Attacks are the normal "I'm being poisoned" reflex. Sulfoxides are close enough.

Cynical Me (1, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 4 years ago | (#34021136)

'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).'

Expect anything bitter and volatile to be classified as a controlled substance that can only be distributed on the condition that a pile of money is given to one of the major campaign contributing drug companies. You see, they need the money so they can continue doing life-saving research into finding new boner drugs and sleeping pills that they can convince us we need.

Re:Cynical Me (0)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 4 years ago | (#34021234)

Only in the USA, though.

Re:Cynical Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34021614)

Oh, to be young again!!!

Re:Cynical Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34022390)

In the EU, too. Pharma-lobbies are some of the most powerful in all "western" civilisations; if not the most powerful. They're a prime source of corruption.

Re:Cynical Me (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 4 years ago | (#34021646)

Expect anything bitter and volatile to be classified as a controlled substance that can only be distributed on the condition that a pile of money is given to one of the major campaign contributing drug companies.

What, are they going to control the growing of wormwood (among others)?

Re:Cynical Me (2, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | about 4 years ago | (#34021864)

They already control growth of cannabis, which would otherwise be a common weed.

Re:Cynical Me (1)

Khyber (864651) | about 4 years ago | (#34022114)

If the government 'controlled' the growth of cannabis, how come there hasn't been a reduction in availability?

Right, because the government is too incompetent to even get rid of fucking kudzu.

Re:Cynical Me (3, Interesting)

TheEyes (1686556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022314)

If the government 'controlled' the growth of cannabis, how come there hasn't been a reduction in availability?

Right, because the government is too incompetent to even get rid of fucking kudzu.

Hey, they've done a great job making it more expensive: as an illegal drug its street value is roughly five times what it would be if it were legalized. Gotta keep those cartels in business; without marijuana their annual profit would be about 20-25% lower than it is.

Support Mexican Cartel violence! Keep Marijuana Illegal! (Paid for by police chiefs far away from the border)

Re:Cynical Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34021888)

No, but they are going to try. What, you don't think they would try to control growing of harmless plants?

Great... (2, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | about 4 years ago | (#34021138)

As if I didn't have enough justification for an aversion to public restrooms. Now I know that when I go into one and it smells like someone slaughtered a cow in there, my lungs will be tasting that. Thanks a lot, University of Maryland!

Neurotransmitters Are Bitter (4, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 4 years ago | (#34021166)

When I was premed we experimented on fish with several neurotransmitters. Since I was in a frat, I eventually found myself doing shots of them (about 0.1cc each). They all tasted bitter.

They also gave me some stomach upset and one or two caused a little abdominal cramping. And I have become steadily more weird. Though since I started out weird enough to do neurotransmitter shots, so maybe I was headed here anyway.

Re:Neurotransmitters Are Bitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34021392)

Why? Seriously. What exactly were you trying to accomplish?

Re:Neurotransmitters Are Bitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34021486)

Re:Neurotransmitters Are Bitter (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 4 years ago | (#34021564)

Or to myself. Neurotransmitters weren't the edgiest substance I soaked up in college, and I've lived to tell the tale.

Re:Neurotransmitters Are Bitter (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 4 years ago | (#34021556)

Did you read the part where I was in a frat? What is "accomplish" supposed to mean? Shots gratia shots.

Re:Neurotransmitters Are Bitter (1)

greenmahe (1928738) | about 4 years ago | (#34021414)

this is really good ... Daniel martien, http://www.eroticnosy.com/ [eroticnosy.com]

Re:Neurotransmitters Are Bitter (5, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 4 years ago | (#34021520)

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.

Re:Neurotransmitters Are Bitter (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 4 years ago | (#34021552)

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.

Re:Neurotransmitters Are Bitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34022214)

Castlevania Win! :D

Re:Neurotransmitters Are Bitter (-1, Offtopic)

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That's one of the things I love about whisky (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34021168)

Just before sipping, I take a (slow!) deep breath and I can "taste" the vapors all the way down in my lungs. With other drinks, it is not as satisfying... Some whiskeys aren't good for this.

computer duster (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34021172)

anyone who has sprayed computer duster in the past few years was already aware that our lungs can taste bitter things

Be careful (0)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 4 years ago | (#34021258)

Towelie got hooked on that stuff and now inhales up to 2000 cans of computer duster a day.

Re:Be careful (0)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | about 4 years ago | (#34021434)

Yeahhe's "walking on sunshine", apparently...

You don't see that every day (2, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:You don't see that every day (5, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:You don't see that every day (1)

bobdotorg (598873) | about 4 years ago | (#34021786)

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.

And every other day that some researcher submits a grant application claiming one.

Re:You don't see that every day (4, Insightful)

Interoperable (1651953) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:You don't see that every day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34022556)

Well, it's at least that often that a Slashdot editor writes a misleading summary that misrepresents both the science journalist and the researchers' statements simultaneously.

Re:You don't see that every day (2, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 4 years ago | (#34021930)

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.

Coffee (4, Interesting)

xaoslaad (590527) | about 4 years ago | (#34021180)

Any chance this is why the coffee for asthma remedy is supposedly effective? Perhaps inhaling the vapors for a bitter fluid are doing just what they described here?

Re:Coffee (2, Interesting)

flows (1075083) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022334)

Any chance this is why the coffee for asthma remedy is supposedly effective? Perhaps inhaling the vapors for a bitter fluid are doing just what they described here?

My thoughts exactly! As an asthmatic, I have found myself often alleviated by coffee. My assumption was that either the warmth or maybe even the caffeine was responsible.

Can it be why just the smell of coffee makes me feel better?

I'm surely paying more attention in the future. *Goes get more coffee*

It's not quite Spidey sense, but I'll take it (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | about 4 years ago | (#34021182)

I'll never be trapped in a dark room with Radicchio again!

Mod points (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34021210)

Lets see if anyone wastes their mod points on this comment

Re:Mod points (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34021342)

Way to waste your own mod point there. I get it, but it is not funny.

Hmmm (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | about 4 years ago | (#34021212)

Could this be WHY vicks vapor rub works so well?

Re:Hmmm (1)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | about 4 years ago | (#34021298)

Menthol [wikipedia.org] is the active chemical in vapor rub, amongst other things.

Re:Hmmm (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 years ago | (#34021354)

I had a co-worker who when pregnant couldn't stay off the stuff. She had a bottle a day habit.

Re:Hmmm (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | about 4 years ago | (#34021724)

That sounds unhealthy. You can't use the stuff on babies, I'd be surprised if its use is not at least discouraged when pregnant.

Bitrex in Airdusters!? (2, Interesting)

oRiCN (21089) | about 4 years ago | (#34021216)

So, All along the Bitrex they put in airdusters has been helping people reach an extra high?

I think there is more to it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34021240)

I have many times reached down into bags of food items and felt a sensation of its smell.

Even when the wind blows such as that it is unlikely that molecules have traveled from hand to nose.

Either I underestimate the volatility and rapid dispersion of said molecules - or I have smell/taste nerves on my hands.

And I don't see why that would be out of line at all. As a species we might benefit from being able to identify edibles by touching them. Might be a preliminary sorting thing before further evaluation by nose and tounge.

Re:I think there is more to it (0)

jack2000 (1178961) | about 4 years ago | (#34021364)

There's too much dead skin cells between your fingers and the food.

Re:I think there is more to it (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 4 years ago | (#34021532)

I think you do underestimate how fast the molecules travel. Buman noses only require a small number of molecules to detect some scents.

Simple test. Do the same thing, but block your nose and hold your breath this time. Can you smell stuff with your hands.

If you still can perhaps you do have smell receptors in your hands.

BUT to be sure try it blindfolded with random items (someone else will have to help) to see whether its in your mind. Or even some sort of synaesthesia.

Re:I think there is more to it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34022566)

Most /.'ers would be unable to wank if they could taste with their hands.

Pepper sniffing kids (1)

yoldapirate (1304207) | about 4 years ago | (#34021362)

On other news, kids have been caught on a new trend sniffing pepper from a prostitutes ass. They claim its to relieve their asthma.

so... (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | about 4 years ago | (#34021376)

when someone farts & I tell them eww gross I can taste it...

Re:so... (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | about 4 years ago | (#34021382)

Actually you are tasting it with the taste buds in your mouth. When we inhale we also taste the particles with our tongues.

The last sentence... (1)

bMinear3 (1893362) | about 4 years ago | (#34021386)

...brings it home.

Known it for years.. (1)

Renraku (518261) | about 4 years ago | (#34021432)

We've known it for years (decades, even) that there are taste receptors in the lungs. People with no taste/smells can taste things if they inhale deep enough. Also, there are taste receptors in the sinuses, on the roof of the mouth, and under the tongue as well.

Re:Known it for years.. (1)

z0idberg (888892) | about 4 years ago | (#34021528)

You know this from first-hand experience? From the research it seems that wouldn't be possible.

in the lung, the taste receptors are not clustered in buds and do not send signals to the brain

Beer(Hops)/Coffee & Cigs (2, Interesting)

Sebilrazen (870600) | about 4 years ago | (#34021484)

Seems this could be why beer and coffee go so well with smokes, they make it easier to breathe while puffing on that chimney stick.

Evolutionary perspective (3, Interesting)

scapermoya (769847) | about 4 years ago | (#34021490)

I wonder what might be the reasoning behind this system evolving/remaining intact in humans. I can't really think of an exogenous substance that we inhale naturally that would activate such a response and confer an advantage to us. My best guess would be that the natural ligand for these receptors is something that is produced locally in the lungs in scenarios where bronchiodilation is desired (ie sympathetic stimulation). as someone else pointed out, many of the common neuroreceptors are alkaloids, and would probably activate these receptors. From the abstract, it sounds like these receptors are Gq (IP3 and calcium) receptors, which is interesting because the "classic" receptors that dilate the smooth muscle in the lungs are Gs receptors that stimulate increased cAMP. In smooth muscle, more calcium generally leads to stronger, not weaker, contraction. cAMP leads to relaxation, explaining why epinephrine and albuterol have their effects.

didn't have time to read the whole paper. exam on this stuff tomorrow though, wonder if I can use this on an essay question?

/med student

Re:Evolutionary perspective (1)

angus77 (1520151) | about 4 years ago | (#34021810)

I wonder what might be the reasoning behind this system evolving/remaining intact in humans.

What, you think genes reason?

Re:Evolutionary perspective (1)

scapermoya (769847) | about 4 years ago | (#34021840)

i use reasoning in an abstract sense to mean "biological driving force." but you already knew that.

Re:Evolutionary perspective (1)

angus77 (1520151) | about 4 years ago | (#34021938)

No, I didn't, If there's no reason for it to go away (even if it's not useful), why would it?

You may want to read up on genetic drift [wikipedia.org] :

In contrast to natural selection, which makes gene variants more common or less common depending on their reproductive success, the changes due to genetic drift are not driven by environmental or adaptive pressures, and may be beneficial, neutral, or detrimental to reproductive success.

(emphasis mine)

Re:Evolutionary perspective (2, Interesting)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 4 years ago | (#34022040)

Genetic drift would tend to remove such features, as there are many more ways for them not to work then there is for them to work. If they aren't useful, the alleles coding for broken variants will not be removed, and in time, there will be more of them then of the alleles coding for the working variants. Unless the alleles coding for the working variants also code for something else which is useful, or something like that (is placed close to important genes, etc.).

Re:Evolutionary perspective (1)

angus77 (1520151) | about 4 years ago | (#34022208)



Sorry, but unless my reading skills are broken, you seem to be talking about selection rather than genetic drift. My understanding of genetic drift is that it is random, and thus doesn't "tend to remove" (or promote) features of any kind--that would be selection at work, if the feature was beneficial or detrimental.

Re:Evolutionary perspective (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022382)

You are not considering the statistically aspect of it.. Imagine there are 1 billions combinations, but only 10 of them does anything useful. Given random genetic drift most changes to something useful will make it drift to become useless. Only natural selection will keep up the selection pressure to make up for the inherent negative force of genetic drift. Features that are not either useful or a biproduct of something useful will have a general tendency to disappear or be rendered useless.

Re:Evolutionary perspective (1)

angus77 (1520151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022452)

Statistically, but not in all specific cases. If genetic drift always resulted in such features disappearing, genetic drift wouldn't even be a significant area of study. The thing that makes genetic drift interesting at all is that these features (like blue eyes) can spread to a significant portion of the population, and in some cases even became universal in a population.

Is it impossible that that is the case with taste buds in the lungs? Until there is found a reason for them to be naturally selected for, what argument is there other than genetic drift? Do I need to quote Sherlock Holmes?

Re:Evolutionary perspective (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022914)

It seems plausible that there is a slight advantage to having blue eyes, if only for sexual selection.

Re:Evolutionary perspective (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022600)

If there's no reason for it and it takes resources, someone with a smaller/weaker/missing "it" will have an advantage over someone with it. At the very least, it adds weight and complexity to the organism so that someone without "it" will require less food and be stronger/faster.

Sure, that difference can be very tiny, but over enough generations and such, once you remove the need for something, it should eventually actually go away.

Re:Evolutionary perspective (1)

angus77 (1520151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022784)

If the feature spreads to the entire population (eg during a population bottleneck, something that happened to humans about 70000 years ago), then where would "it" go? There would be nobody who advantageously was missing this "it" to breed it out.

Statistically we're not talking about something like all the air in the room suddenly accumulating in one corner (not impossible, but statistically astoundingly unlikely), we're talking about something that actually happens.

For the record, I've never said that I think that's what's happened here, only that it's not impossible.

unlikely != impossible

Re:Evolutionary perspective (1)

clickety6 (141178) | about 4 years ago | (#34022068)

Maybe it's not to warn us of noxious substances, but to help us expel them once inhaled. If you're in a smoke-filled environment, being able to gulp down larger amounts of smoke-filed air won't help, but if you've just escaped from one, having the passages open to suck ion clean air and expel smoky air might give you an advantage - might keep you ahead of a forest fire by helping you recover faster and run faster...

Re:Evolutionary perspective (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Evolutionary perspective (1)

MasterPatricko (1414887) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022762)

who knows maybe if things change they'll be more important.

I, for one, welcome our new ear-wiggling overlords.

Bitter scents from the natural environemnt (4, Interesting)

solferino (100959) | about 4 years ago | (#34021582)

The idea that occurred to me while reading the summary is maybe this partially explains the sense of well-being gained from being in a forest or some leafy natural environment.

As we know, most plants taste bitter - perhaps plants are also releasing bitter tasting gasses which help to open up our lungs.

Re:Bitter scents from the natural environemnt (1)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | about 4 years ago | (#34021638)

If I had the points I would mod you up. I really hope some researcher follows up on your idea.

Since we taste bitter, not smell it, we wouldn't detect even a trace of "bitter" unless we breathed through our mouths. I doubt it would take much to trigger the receptors in the lungs so the other scent compounds would overpower the bitter signal from the tongue, so the brain gets an "Ooooo, Earthy, loamy goodness" signal while the lungs get "Open wide!".

Re:Bitter scents from the natural environemnt (1)

NoSig (1919688) | about 4 years ago | (#34021660)

Wouldn't we smell it also in that case?

Re:Bitter scents from the natural environemnt (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022766)

I would bet that things are wired like a very tight wheatstone bridge in the lung receptors so that smaller swings will result in larger results.

The amount you can smell/ notice is most likely orders of magnitude larger than what would be tripped by the lung receptors.

heres a writeup with some details (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34021584)

if the abstract is a bit bare
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101024144132.htm

it all makes sense now... (1)

jappleng (1805148) | about 4 years ago | (#34021718)

You know when you smell something so bad that you can taste it in your mouth? Yeah, I think there's a connection there haha!

It's pretty obvious why... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34021960)

So when the bitch accidentally inhales your semen, she doesn't miss out on the flavor!

Is this why coffee helps with asthma? (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 4 years ago | (#34022026)

I wonder if it's the bitter taste, or the caffeine that is effective. Or is it both?

Old trick... (1)

geogob (569250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022398)

Maybe the ol' grandma trick of sniffing fumes from a weird stew of seemingly random herbs wasn't that silly after all.

Supertasters and asthma (1)

jacquems (610184) | more than 3 years ago | (#34022596)

I am a supertaster (highly sensitive to bitter tastes), and I also have asthma. Reading this made me wonder if there might be some connection. Any other asthmatic supertasters out there?

Horse Racing Hockey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34023078)

This is all just BS, as he tucks his horse racing form under his arm, with all the 1X10^6 horses circled, and heads out the door with a hand full of bitter smelling herbs.

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