The chemical senses of taste and smell play a vital role in conveying information about ourselves and our environment. Tastes and smells can warn against danger and also contribute to the daily enjoyment of food, friends and family, and our surroundings. Over 12% of the US population is estimated to experience taste and smell (chemosensory) dysfunction. Yet, despite this high prevalence, long-term, effective treatments for these disorders have been largely elusive. Clinical successes in other sensory systems, including hearing and vision, have led to new hope for developments in the treatment of chemosensory disorders. To accelerate cures, we convened the "Identifying Treatments for Taste and Smell Disorders" conference, bringing together basic and translational sensory scientists, health care professionals, and patients to identify gaps in our current understanding of chemosensory dysfunction and next steps in a broad-based research strategy. Their suggestions for high-yield next steps were focused in 3 areas: increasing awareness and research capacity (e.g., patient advocacy), developing and enhancing clinical measures of taste and smell, and supporting new avenues of research into cellular and therapeutic approaches (e.g., developing human chemosensory cell lines, stem cells, and gene therapy approaches). These long-term strategies led to specific suggestions for immediate research priorities that focus on expanding our understanding of specific responses of chemosensory cells and developing valuable assays to identify and document cell development, regeneration, and function. Addressing these high-priority areas should accelerate the development of novel and effective treatments for taste and smell disorders.
Recommended CitationMainland, Joel D.; Barlow, Linda A.; Munger, Steven D.; Millar, Sarah E.; Vergara, M. Natalia; Jiang, Peihua; Schwob, James E.; Goldstein, Bradley J.; Boye, Shannon E.; Martens, Jeffrey R.; Leopold, Donald A.; Bartoshuk, Linda M.; Doty, Richard L.; Hummel, Thomas; Pinto, Jayant M.; Trimmer, Casey; Kelly, Christine; Pribitkin, Edmund A.; and Reed, Danielle R., "Identifying Treatments for Taste and Smell Disorders: Gaps and Opportunities." (2020). Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Faculty Papers. Paper 49.
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