Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Nose Knows: Gene Therapy Restores Sense of Smell in Mice

12.09.2012
A team of scientists from Johns Hopkins and other institutions report that restoring tiny, hair-like structures to defective cells in the olfactory system of mice is enough to restore a lost sense of smell.

The results of the experiments were published online last week in Nature Medicine, and are believed to represent the first successful application of gene therapy to restore this function in live mammals.

An expert in olfaction, Randall Reed, Ph.D., professor of molecular biology and genetics and co-director of the Center for Sensory Biology at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, cautions that researchers are still years away from applying the same therapy in people, and that if and when it comes, it will likely be most effective for those who suffer from anosmia (lack of smell) due to inherited genetic disorders.

“But our work has already contributed to a better understanding of the cellular factors involved in anosmia, and that will give us insights into other neurological disorders, as well,” he says.

The mice used in the current study carried a genetic mutation that destroyed the production of a protein critical for the functioning of cilia in the cells responsible for smell, called olfactory sensory neurons. These specialized cells each display several of the protruding, hair-like structures that contain receptors for odorants. Without functional cilia, the cells become a broken link in the chain of events necessary for proper odor detection in the environment, the researchers explained.

Beginning with a common cold virus, which readily infects the cells of the nasal cavity, researchers replaced some of the viral genes with a corrected version of the defective cilia gene. They then infected smelling-impaired mice with the altered virus, delivering the corrected gene to the olfactory neural cells that needed it.

At the cellular level, scientists saw a restoration of proper chemical signaling between nerve cells after the treated mice were stimulated with various odorants. Perhaps even more indicative of their success, Reed says, was the 60 percent increase in body weight that the mice experienced once they could smell their meals, leading to increased appetite. Many people with anosmia lose weight because aromas play a significant part in creating appetite and food enjoyment.

Researchers are optimistic about the broader implications of this work, Reed notes, because cilia are not only important to olfactory cells, but also to cells all over the body, from the kidney to the eye. The fact that they were able to treat live mice with a therapy that restored cilia function in one sensory system suggests that similar techniques could be used to treat cilia disorders elsewhere.

“We also hope this stimulates the olfactory research community to look at anosmia caused by other factors, such as head trauma and degenerative diseases,” says senior author Jeffrey Martens, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Michigan. “We know a lot about how this system works – now have to look at how to fix it when it malfunctions.”

In addition to Randall Reed from Johns Hopkins, the paper’s authors include Jeffrey Martens, Jeremy McIntyre, Ariell Joiner, Corey Williams, Paul Jenkins, Dyke McEwen, Lian Zhang and John Escobado from the Martens Lab at the University of Michigan; Erica Davis, I-Chun Tsai and Nicholas Katsanis from Duke University; Aniko Sabo, Donna Muzny and Richard Gibbs from the Baylor College of Medicine; Eric Green and James Mullikin from the National Institutes of Health Intramural Sequencing Center; Bradley Yoder from the University of Alabama-Birmingham; Sophie Thomas and Tania Attié-Bitach from L’Université Paris Descartes; Katarzyna Szymanska and Colin A. Johnson from St. James’s University Hospital in Leeds, UK; and Philip Beales from University College London, UK.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (#R01DC009606, F32DC011990, R01DC004553, R01DC008295), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (#R01DK75996, R01DK072301, R01DK075972, DK074083), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (#R01HD042601), and National Eye Institute (#R01EY021872). Additional funding sources included L’Agence Nationale de la Recherche and the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme.

On the Web:

Article in Nature Medicine: http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nm.2860.html

Q&A with Randall Reed: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/institute_basic
_biomedical_sciences/about_us/scientists/Randall_Reed.html
Reed Lab: http://www.mbg.jhmi.edu/Pages/people/profile.aspx?PID=16

Cathy Kolf | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

nachricht Migrating Cells: Folds in the cell membrane supply material for necessary blebs
23.11.2017 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>