The skin has a sense of smell

Researchers in Germany discover that the skin has olfactory receptors

Researchers from the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany have discovered that the skin has olfactory receptors and can therefore ‘smell’.

The tests also showed that olfactory receptors in the skin which were exposed to sandalwood oil significantly boosted wound healing. The team, led by Dr Daniela Busse and Professor Hanns Hatt, found five different types of olfactory receptors and have managed to duplicate one of them, named OR2AT4, which proved to be receptive to a synthetic sandalwood molecule, Sandalore.

This triggered the cloned olfactory cells to dramatically amplify the production and migration of cells – a characteristic process of wound healing. The research findings have been published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

The researchers have also found a variety of other olfactory receptors in the skin, whose function they now intend to research further. The receptors are in the outermost layer of skin, in keratinocytes.

“The results so far show that they possess therapeutic and cosmetic potential,” said Hatt. There are around 350 different types of olfactory receptors in the human nose and their function has also been shown to exist in sperm, the prostate, the intestine and the kidneys, for reasons yet to be discovered.