Researchers from the University of Manchester discovered that inhaling sugar could help fight lung infections by stimulating the immune system.
The study claims people with lung infections could treat their condition by breathing in sugar. It was found that inhaling sugar stimulates the lung immune system to combat the infection.
Professor Andrew MacDonald said: “It is possible that provision of glucose could increase inflammation to help protect against some lung infections.
“It’s reasonable to suggest that short-term inhalation therapy might one day work as such a treatment.”
The study is published in the journal Nature Immunology but how sugar might be inhaled isn’t made clear.
Theoretically, sugar could be ‘snorted’ but not vaped. When a sugar solution is heated the sugar crystallizes as the water evaporates.
The study involving mice looked at macrophages, specialized white blood cells. These act as immune system “vacuum cleaner” by removing unwanted debris and harmful organisms.
Researchers found that macrophages in the lungs require the right amount of glucose ‘fuel’ to function properly. Too much sugar stimulation can lead to inflammation associated with chronic conditions like asthma.
Lung inflammation is linked to possibly life-threatening effects of parasitic worm infections, which are huge problems in Asia and Africa.
The study suggests that blocking sugar receptors on lung macrophages could help stop such diseases. Stimulating the cells with more sugar might help the immune system combat bronchial infections responsible for pneumonia and coughing fits.
“Respiratory illnesses cause terrible suffering in both the developing and developed world,” Prof. MacDonald added.
“Hundreds of people are admitted to hospital every day in the UK with asthma attacks, while potentially deadly parasitic infections in the lungs are endemic across much of Africa and Asia.
“The idea that modifying glucose levels in the lungs could one day be a critical factor in treatment of these conditions is tremendously exciting.
“Clearly we now need to study the impact of glucose on human lung macrophages.”
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