Smell Change and Infection

September 8, 2020

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Anchor lead: Can smell changes be explained by Sars-CoV2 infecting that area of the nose? Elizabeth Tracey reports

We all have proteins on the surface of cells in our bodies known as receptors, and one of them, abbreviated ACE2, is used by Sars-CoV2 to infect us. Now research by Andrew Lane, an otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, has shown that the area in our nose involved in the sense of smell has several hundred times more ACE2 than other areas of the nose.

Lane: Well if that’s really true could you direct a therapy towards the olfactory epithelium and try to nip it in the bud? The other angle is if it really is there in a lot of people who are otherwise asymptomatic would it be possible as a screening tool to study the olfactory system. Maybe some simple test might catch some proportion of people who have olfactory dysfunction but not olfactory loss, it may be a more subtle change in their sense of smell that might indicate they’re infected.  :25

Lane notes that some researchers have developed a scratch and sniff card to help screen people who may have very minor changes in their sense of smell, and that might point toward those capable of spreading the virus even though they have no other symptoms. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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