Scientists of the University of Michigan developed a gene therapy which they claimed could restore the sense of smell in human beings who lost the ability to sniff odours from birth. The scientists used gene therapy to regrow cilia, cell structures that are important for olfactory function.
These results could result in to one of the first therapeutic options for treating people with congenital anosmia. They also set the stage for therapeutic approaches to treating diseases which involve cilia dysfunction in other organ systems. Many of these diseases can be dangerous if left untreated.
Olfactory dysfunction can be a symptom of a class of genetic disorders, known as ciliopathies. It includes diseases as diverse as polycystic kidney disease and retinitis pigmentosa--an inherited, degenerative eye disease- that causes severe vision impairment and blindness.