Researchers restore lost sense of smell in mice

Gene therapy used to repair defective cells in olfactory system

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and other institutions have discovered a way to restore a lost sense of smell in mice, a method that could eventually be used to produce similar results in humans.

The sense of smell was restored in the study by replacing tiny, hair-like structures called cilia in defective cells in the olfactory system, according to a Johns Hopkins Medicine release. Results of the study were published last week in the journal Nature Medicine.

Randall Reed, a professor of molecular biology and genetics at the School of Medicine and an expert in olfaction, said that researchers are likely years away from applying the same gene therapy in humans. "But our work has already contributed to a better understanding of the cellular factors involved in anosmia (lack of smell), and that will give us insights into other neurological disorders, as well," Reed said.

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