Researchers have possibly found clues to why is it so difficult to pick up perfumes for a loved one.
According to the researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia, smell receptors vary greatly among two people, making them perceive odours in different ways.
The base study
The human nose is home to nearly 400 different olfactory receptors. These olfactory receptors aid in ones sense of smelling and a change in even one receptor can alter the way a person experiences smell, the team highlighted.
“Understanding how this huge array of receptors encodes odours is a challenging task,” study’s lead researcher, Dr Joel Mainland, a molecular biology expert averred. “The activation pattern of these 400 receptors encodes both the intensity of an odour and the quality — for example , whether it smells like vanilla or smoke — for the tens of thousands of different odours that represent everything we smell.”
For the purpose of the study, researchers created replica of 511 receptors and implanted them in host cells.
Later, each receptor was exposed to 73 different odours. Researchers measured how each receptor responded to different smells.
Researchers found 28 different ways in which each receptor reacted to various smells.
Using mathematical model of extrapolation the researchers found that 140 of the 400 receptors (30 percent) were different for any two individuals.
“For different items there is a big gap between what you smell and what I smell,” Mainland, from the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia, said.
“The amount of variation was really surprising to us – it was about 30 per cent of receptors are different between two individuals at random. That is a pretty high number.”
Mainland feels that the findings of the study may pave way for scientists to accurately develop different smells.
But the team still has to figure out “how the receptors encode odour molecules well enough that we can actually create any odour we want by manipulating the receptors directly.”
The findings of the study feature in the current issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.