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There is hope for older people losing their sense of smell, as stem cells can now be used to bring it back.
Up to one in 20 people in Britain have either lost or are losing their sense of smell, often in old age or following viral infections.
Hearing - Loss - Association - America - Americans
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, approximately 48 million Americans - or one in five people - report some degree of hearing loss.
This can harm quality of life, as smell is linked to taste, and it can leave food flavourless, which is why many elderly people have a lack of appetite and risk malnutrition.
Scientists - Sense - Smell - Mice
However scientists seeking to reverse a permanently damaged sense of smell have now been successful in mice.
The solution came from a nasal spray given to the animals and containing stem cells which are capable of becoming any cell in the body.
Cavity - Cells - Smells - Nostrils - Signal
In the nasal cavity, they become nerve cells which pick up smells coming through the nostrils, transmitting the signal to the brain which identifies the aroma as nice or nasty.
When mice with no sense of smell were given the stem cells, then days later exposed to a chemical smelling like the urine of a larger predatory animal, they tried to get away from it, showing their sense of smell had come back.
Researchers - Mice - Nasal - Cell - Activity
Researchers, who confirmed the mice could smell again by recording their nasal cell activity, hope the same treatment might work for people in the future using a small tube to dispense the stem cells.
Dr Bradley Goldstein, who led the study from the University of Miami, said: ‘This is the first model of smell loss showing evidence of recovery using a cell-based therapy.
Sense - Smell - Mice - Gene - Therapy
It has previously been possible to restore a sense of smell in mice using gene therapy.
This switches on a gene important for sniffing out odours which...
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