Treatment hope from cough find13th July 2009
A study by scientists at the University of Hull has identified a type of protein molecule which lives on nerve cells and causes a person to cough.
They are hopeful that the reseach could be used to treat chronic cough, which is suffered by around one in ten people in the UK.
Over 50% of new patients who go to see a GP are concerned about coughing.
Lead researcher Professor Alyn Morice said: "Chronic cough can be socially isolating and disabling...yet current treatment options are limited with remedies little better than honey and lemon."
Previous studies have examined how protein receptors on nerve cells transmit signals. One receptor known as TRPV1 produced a coughing reflex using the stimulus of chilli pepper extract.
Drugs were made which blocked the receptor, but tests showed that people who took the drugs could not feel heat properly and had raised body temperatures.
The researchers in Hull looked at a different receptor called TRPA1, which helps people feel the cold.
It was found to produce a cough reflex when a stimulus of cinnamon extract was applied.
Professor Morice said: "When people have a cough they have a heightened sensitivity."
"However, we don't want to eliminate cough in patients because it is vital to keeping people well - it stops us getting pneumonia - so a return to normal sensitivity is the goal."
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