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scientists respond to announcement of Nobel Prize for Medicine

The Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to two US scientists for uncovering the secrets of the human sense of smell.

Dr Peter Brennan, Research fellow in Olfaction and Behaviour, University of Cambridge, said:

“Before this work very little was known about how we smell. The discovery of this large family of genes has revolutionized our understanding of this major sense. Although this work is not directly related to any major human diseases, it has opened new windows on the way the brain interprets the world around us and how this effects behaviour.

“Smell is different from the other senses in that the sensory cells are continually dying and being replaced by new cells that have to be wired up correctly in the brain. Their work, and that of their co-workers, has increased our knowledge of how the complex patterns of connections in the brain are formed during development.”

Dr Mariann Rand-Weaver, Director of Biosciences, Brunel University, said:

“This is excellent news! Buck and Axel’s discovery provided for the first time an explanation of how we can differentiate thousands of different smells and is helping us to understand how we interact with, and are influenced by, the world around us.”

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