While searching for a preventive agent for the contaminant “Florida red tide” (microscopic cells that get dispersed in the air and irritate human mucus membranes–lungs, eyes, nose, etc.), researchers discovered anit-toxins that actually seem to help clear mucus from the lungs.
They are thinking this discovery could be really important for treating cystic fibrosis (a fatal disease) and other respiratory illnesses that produce excess mucus. All that mucus is bad because it harbors bacteria and facilitates infections–besides making it hard to breathe. The anti-toxins, ?-Naphthoyl-brevetoxin (manmade) and brevenal (produced by the organism itself), work by causing “a combination of increased movement of the cilia, the tiny hair-like structures that line the airways, and a thinning of mucus.”
Since there are so many diseases, including congestive heart failure, that affect people’s ability to breathe freely, it seems reasonable to hope researchers will eventually be able to extend this discovery and one day apply it those other illnesses–and maybe even to things like the flu and the miserable condition we all know as the common cold.