A new study shows that the lungs have a self-cleaning mechanism that ensures the free flow of mucus.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill found a brush-like layer in the lungs that pushes out sticky mucus and other harmful substances.
It is believed that the novel discovery may help to find new ways of treating lung-related diseases from cystic fibrosis to asthma, reported the Daily Mail.
The way the lungs clean themselves have been somewhat of a mystery to scientists with many believing that a liquid was the protective element that washed away harmful substances.
The new research adds evidence to the notion that lungs are able to protect themselves against intruders we breath in.
“The air we breathe isn’t exactly clean, and we take in many dangerous elements every minute,” explains study co-author Michael Rubinstein, reported Health Canal.
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“We need a mechanism to remove all the junk we breathe in, and the way that is done is with a very sticky substance called mucus, which lines the airways and catches these particles before they reach the epithelial cells in the lungs."
"Hair-like extensions of epithelial cells called cilia then propel the mucus out of our airways and get rid of these dangerous particles.”
Many lung problems such as cystic fibrosis begin when this merchanism fails to function and the lungs are not able to purge invading particles, said Red Orbit.
"The collapse of this brush is what can lead to immobile mucus and result in infection, inflammation and eventually the destruction of lung tissue and the loss of lung function," said Rubinstein, according to the Daily Mail.
The study was published in the journal Science.