Toward a better understanding of taste and smell impairments

PHILADELPHIA, PA A team of researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center and Jefferson Medical College has been awarded a $7.7 million, five-year grant by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) to study how inflammation affects our senses of taste and smell.

The role inflammation plays in basic biological processes is of increasing importance to medical research. The new grant will enable a multidisciplinary team of basic scientists and clinicians from the MonellJefferson Chemosensory Clinical Research Center (CCRC) to investigate how inflammation contributes to clinical changes in smell and taste. Information gained from the studies will form the foundation of new approaches to avoid or overcome the sometimes debilitating effects of chemosensory dysfunction.

Approximately six million Americans suffer from sensory loss or alteration related to the senses of taste, smell, or both. Although changes in taste and smell perception can significantly impact human quality of life, nutrition, and safety, current treatment options remain limited.

"By investigating the role of inflammatory factors in chemosensory loss and recovery, we expect to gain insight into potential therapeutic interventions for these dysfunctions," says Beverly Cowart, Ph.D., a sensory psychologist who oversees the Chemosensory Clinic that assesses taste and smell function of patients. Otolaryngologist Edmund Pribitkin, M.D., Associate Professor of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, is the project's medical director.

Scientists at the Monell-Jefferson CCRC seek to characterize and understand the causes of taste and smell disorders and to develop treatment strategies. Continuously funded since 1986, the Monell-Jefferson CCRC represents the only chemosensory clinical research center currently supported by the NIDCD. Monell's Director, Gary K. Beauchamp,

Contact: Leslie Stein
Monell Chemical Senses Center

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