Smells, like the tangy scent of the ocean or the acrid odor of smoke, are powerful cues that shape our memories and warn us of imminent threats. But for approximately 12 percent of Americans over the age of 40, this crucial sense is significantly reduced or absent altogether. While scientists are still working to understand the causes behind this impairment, researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have developed a method for restoring olfaction in mice through the use of stem cells.
In the nose, there are two main types of tissue cells responsible for replenishing sensory neurons. The first are called globose basal cells (GBC), which are the nose’s first line of defense, and second are horizontal basal cells, the nose’s reserve calvary. The research team isolated and cultured a population of mouse GBCs that could be introduced to other mice’s damaged olfactory tissue to jump-start the replenishment of olfactory neurons.
The mice, while under anesthesia, inhaled small droplets of a solution containing the GBC stem cells. [Researcher Bradley] Goldstein said the team was surprised at how quickly and effectively the new stem cells were able to engraft to the damaged tissue.
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