Scientists Have Discovered a New Part of The Body Hiding in The Lungs
The study says that the respiratory airway secretory (RAS) cells are found in tiny branching passages known as bronchioles.
In new research, scientists have found a brand new type of cell hiding inside the delicate, branching passageways of human lungs. According to the study published in the journal Nature, the newfound cell plays an important role in keeping the functioning of the respiratory system intact, not just that the study also highlights that the brand new type of cell can also reverse certain smoking-related diseases.
The study says that the respiratory airway secretory (RAS) cells are found in tiny branching passages known as bronchioles. RAS cells are much like stem cells. The new RAS cells can repair damaged alveoli cells and transform them into new ones.
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Researchers have discovered the RAS cells after becoming increasingly frustrated by the limitations of relying on the lungs of mice as models for the human respiratory system. However, because of certain differences between the two, scientists have struggled to fill some knowledge gaps about the human lungs. To get a better understanding of these differences on a cellular level, the team took lung tissue samples from healthy human donors and analyzed the genes within individual cells, which revealed the previously unknown RAS cells, Live Science reported.
The team also found RAS cells in ferrets, whose respiratory systems are more similar to humans than those of mice are. As a result, the researchers suspect that most mammals equal or larger in size are likely to have RAS cells in their lungs, Morrisey said.
The researchers think RAS cells may play a key role in smoking-related diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is the result of inflammation of airway passages inside the lungs, which can be caused by smoking and, occasionally, air pollution, according to the Mayo Clinic. The inflammation of the airways makes it harder for the lungs to properly take in enough oxygen; as a result, COPD has similar symptoms to asthma. COPD can also lead to emphysema, in which alveoli are permanently destroyed, and chronic bronchitis, a long-lasting and intense cough usually accompanied by excess phlegm. Every year, more than 3 million people around the world die from COPD, according to the World Health Organization.
In theory, RAS cells should prevent, or at least alleviate, the effects of COPD by repairing damaged alveoli. However, the researchers suspect that smoking can damage, or even completely destroy, the new cells, leading to the onset of diseases such as COPD.
(The study was published online on March 30 in the journal Nature)
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