For centuries, scientists have been trying to get their heads around the mystery of just how our human sense of smell works. In a study led by Hunter biology professor Paul Feinstein, a team of researchers attacked the problem through another species’ little noses: mice.
Professor Feinstein joined with a group of researchers, including Christine D’Hulst, a Hunter senior postdoctoral fellow pursuing her own research in olfactory gene-swapping, to try to zero in on the mechanisms by which sensory neurons detect specific odors. By tinkering with odor receptors through altering the DNA code in the mice genome, the team was able to develop super-sniffers, mice with extra-acute sensitivities to certain odors. The future of this technology is exciting and potentially far-reaching, with uses in land mine detection and disease diagnosis.