Our sense of smell is continually attacked by harsh chemicals that we unintentionally inhale, risking damage or death to our olfactory cells. Without these nerve cells, the only cells in the body to run directly to the brain with information of the outside world, we would lose our sense of smell.
But we may be able to repair the most severe damage to the nerves responsible for our sense of smell with the assistance of a backup supply of stem cell that were discovered by Johns Hopkins researchers. When adjacent cells die, the reserve cells move to correct the deficiency. But usually, they remain dormant. Next weeks online edition of Nature Neuroscience will repot on the new discovery.