Health: Possible Treatment For Anosmia, Or Inability To Smell

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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Ever imagine living life without being able to smell? For some people, that’s reality, and there’s no treatment.

But that could soon change, thanks to local research. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more.

Sandy Dunn, of Delaware County, loves flowers. They’re something she can see, but not smell.

“It’s bewildering to realize that you once smelled something and then all of a sudden, you can’t,” says Sandy.

For her, it happened after suffering a concussion nearly ten years ago. It’s called anosmia. It’s the inability to smell, affecting at least six million Americans.Anosm

“There was no treatment for it and nothing they can do about it,” said Sandy.

Anosmia is a problem that scientists at Philadelphia’s Monell Center, who study smell and taste, are constantly hearing about. It’s unclear why it happens, but it can occur after head injury or upper respiratory illnesses, even aging.

“One of the really unrecognized problems with the sense of smell is this loss,” explains Gary Beauchamp, the Director of the Monell Center.

He says they’re starting some exciting research on the condition and are hoping to better understand what causes it and develop potential treatments, including using stem cells.

“If we could understand how those cells regenerate, there’s the potential to actually use them to transplant, and to at least treat some forms of smell loss or anosmia,” Beauchamp says.

Sandy misses smelling different foods while cooking in the kitchen. She’s excited about a treatment on the horizon, so she can smell again.

“I would love to be able to smell flowers again, especially in the spring time,” says Sandy.

The research is just beginning at the Monell Center, and they’re looking for people with the condition to help them. The Center is also looking for donations to fund their research.

If you’re interested in participating, email anosmia@monell.org to sign up.

For more on the Monell Center and anosmia, visit: www.monell.org/research/anosmia

For more on Monell’s Anosmia Awareness and how to donate to research, visit: www.monell.org/anosmiahope

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