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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Over reacting asthma cells

(Shutterstock image)

I love researchers! Unlike me, these people are REALLY smart! There are lots of Smart People, like my teenage daughter, Kitty - who drops her high school physics class because it's too easy. (Yeah, well I can't even spell physics - I had to use spell check for this blog entry.......) 

But these researchers are finding out new things all the time about asthma. The photo above shows a doctor looking at lungs, but the researchers are looking a lot deeper - at the cells that line the lungs (epithelial cells)

The newest research out shows that the cells that line the lungs in people with asthma are not like other people's lung cells. In "normal people's" lung cells, their cells just sit there in the lungs, like cars in a traffic jam. 

But people who have asthma have lungs cells that can be explained by  a study from Harvard Public Health 

“scramble around like there’s a fire drill going on”

I always tell people that asthma is like a "drama queen". (Those of you with teenagers know all about drama and over reacting.)  With asthma, your body over reacts to normal every day things - you know, like stress, animals, grass, trees, flowers, perfume, cleaning supplies, air pollution (these are "asthma triggers" - they trigger an asthma attack). Normal People can be around these things without thinking twice. But someone with asthma gets around any of those asthma triggers and our lungs over react and swell, make mucus, and the bands around the bronchial tubes tighten. 

Yeah, and we wonder why we suddenly start coughing or are short of breath?!

So, now we know that the cells in our lungs seem to over react (and they also have an unusual shape.) Check out the videos on the Harvard Public Health page. It's pretty interesting.

Now that the researchers have found this, it leads to more questions 

"Now that it’s known that epithelial cells in asthmatic airways are oddly shaped and are not jammed, scientists have to figure out why it’s happening—whether it’s asthma causing the cells to unjam, or if it’s the unjamming of these cells that causes asthma."  

That is kind of like "which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

Well, keep on working researchers! I would love to see the day when they find a CURE for asthma. They making great strides in finding out what causes asthma, let's find a cure you Smart People!  


  1. That's actually what I'm doing with my research. Im researching clamydamonas or blue green algae. Those algae cells have flagella that closely resemble the lung's sillial cells. I'm studying the effects of alcohol on those cells, and the algae I treat with alcohol have significantly shorter flagella and an elarged nucleus. So basically, inhaling alcohol is really bad for not just your liver but your lungs too

    1. Love the research! I think my daughter may go into Biology in college - she loves that stuff! She was in my office the other day, and instead of drawing a picture of a flower on my whiteboard, she drew the structure of a cell.....

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