The Secret Workings of Smell Receptors

How do we smell? New research shows some smell receptors bind to odor molecules, pushing us closer to understanding the olfactory system.

via Quanta Magazine

“It’s unequivocally a landmark paper,” Datta said. “Although we’ve had access to receptors as molecules for a long time, no one’s ever actually seen with their eyes what it looks like when an odor binds to a receptor.”

The result goes a long way toward confirming how animals identify and discriminate among astronomical numbers of smells. It also sheds light on key principles of receptor activity that might have far-reaching implications — for the evolution of chemical perception, for our understanding of how other neurological systems and processes work, and for practical applications like the development of targeted drugs and insect repellents.

Read more.


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