2022 April 2022 News

Gene allowing humans to feel touch may play a role in sense of smell

SMU researchers have determined that a gene linked to our sense of touch may moonlight as an olfactory gene. The research could lead to treatment for a common COVID-19 side effect.

Can you smell those roses? There’s a real possibility that the gene that helps you experience their heavenly fragrance may also help you feel the prick of their thorns.
Researchers from SMU have determined that a gene linked to feeling touch may moonlight as an olfactory gene. That’s the conclusion drawn from studying a very small, transparent worm that shares many similarities with the human nervous system.
“This gene has previously been identified as a potential therapeutic target for chronic pain. Now that we know the gene is also involved in olfaction, it might present an opportunity for treating or understanding olfactory defects, such as the mysterious loss of smell that many COVID-19 patients have reported,” says SMU’s Adam D. Norris, co-author of a study published in the journal Nucleic Acids Research.
Norris is the Floyd B. James Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. He worked with SMU graduate students Xiaoyu Liang and Canyon Calovich-Benne, who are the lead authors of the study. Both are studying to get a Ph.D. in biological sciences.
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