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Sense of smell restored through cell therapy, scientists say


A new study shows that scientists were able to restore the sense of smell in mice.


Chris Jackson

Most of us take our sense of smell for granted but what if you couldn't taste your food? Smell a perfume?

A new study found that scientists were able to restore the olfactory sense in mice, giving those who can't smell hope for the future.

According to BBC, the study used mice that had a genetic disease which disabled their ability to sense chemicals in the air due to a lack of cilia - microscopic hairs found in sensory organs.

University of Michigan Medical School researchers said that the mice lacked a protain called IFT88, which helps develop cilia.

“The researchers were able to insert normal IFT88 genes into the cells of the mice by giving them a common cold virus loaded with the normal DNA sequence, and allowing the virus to infect them and insert the DNA into the mouse’s own cells,” the researchers said in a statement, according to Red Orbit.

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“They then monitored cilia growth, feeding habits, and well as signals within and between the nerve cells, called neurons, that are involved in the sense of smell.”

The researchers said that after the mice were given the protein, they were able to produce cilia.

With cilia, their sense of smell was regained and they were once again able to seek out food using their nose rather than simply their eyes.

“Using gene therapy in a mouse model of cilia dysfunction, we were able to rescue and restore olfactory function, or sense of smell,” said senior author Jeffrey Martens, an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Michigan, in a statement.

“Essentially, we induced the neurons that transmit the sense of smell to regrow the cilia they’d lost.”

The study was published in the journal Nature Medicine.