Researchers Identify Receptors Activated by Odors

LEXINGTON, Ky. —  Researchers at the University of Kentucky have developed an assay that allows scientists to identify scent receptors in the brain.

The discovery may help scientists to develop better flavors and fragrances, or to be able to design receptor blockers for offensive odors.

The research was published in the November edition of Journal of Neuroscience.

Using a fluorescent protein to mark nerve cells in mice, the researchers were able to see which cells responded to eugenol and muscone odors (spices such as clove and musk).

Their goal is to understand how receptors allow humans to detect and discriminate odors, information that until now is not understood.

This type of research has been conducted since 2004 when Richard Axel and Linda Buck won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the role of odorant receptors in the organization of the olfactory system.

Because of their invention, called the Kentucky In Vivo Odorant-Ligand Receptor Assay, scientists are now able to determine which receptors respond to certain odors in awake, freely behaving animals.

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