Despite its lowly status, mucus plays a valuable role in the body. It provides a barrier against pathogens and lubricates tissues lining the air passages, gastrointestinal tract, and several other areas of the body. Too much mucus, however, can be annoying, unhealthy, and even deadly, as in chronic bronchitis, asthma, and cystic fibrosis.
By interfering with a protein that earlier research implicated in mucus secretion, scientists have countered overstimulation of mucus secretion in the airways of mice. The finding suggests that keeping this protein from its target might lead to a treatment for asthma in people, say the researchers in an upcoming issue of Nature Medicine.
Certain cells lining the lungs and other membrane-covered areas make and store mucus. These cells, called goblet cells, routinely release small amounts of the slippery substance. But the cells also secrete