Lung disease is any problem with the vital organ that stops them from working properly.
One type is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – commonly abbreviated to COPD – which is diagnosed in 115,000 people each year.
However, grapes may lead to a cure for the deadly condition.
A natural compound in the popular fruit could be used for a new drug, according to new research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.
In a study by the National University of Singapore, scientists found that a polyphenol called isorhapontigenin can suppress the lung inflammation that COPD triggers.
Currently there is a lack of an effective way to halt the progression of inflammation, and this has been blamed for the condition’s high mortality rates.
Previous research has shown that resveratrol – found in red wine – is anti-inflammatory.
While it’s not suitable for treating lung disease, researchers looked at other similar molecules to see if they worked instead.
They identified isorhapontigenin as having the potential to be developed into a drug to treat COPD.
“Corticosteroids, which are commonly used for reducing inflammation, are not effective in COPD patients,” said Lin Haishu from the National University of Singapore.
“This compound, isorhapontigenin, uses a biological pathway that is different from corticosteroids to inhibit the release of inflammatory mediators in the body to tackle lung inflammation caused by COPD.”
Researchers will next test their findings in a lab.
COPD is a leading cause of death in the UK, and rates are rising.
The main cause is smoking, but in some sufferers it may be triggered by exposure to harmful fumes or dust, or due to a rare genetic problem.
Symptoms include breathlessness, a persistent chesty cough, frequent chest infections and persistent wheezing.
While it is not suggested that eating grapes can directly treat lung disease, the fruit contains powerful antioxidants.