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(LVO-0684) Odor Discrimination

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 Return to List of Protocols for Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior- Olfactory (Smell) Studies
Genetic Basis of Odor Discrimination

Principal Investigator:
Leslie B. Vosshall Ph.D.

Jeanne Walker ANP-C
Mary Sullivan-Whalen N.P.
Barbara O'Sullivan MD, MPH
Andreas Keller Ph.D.
Peggy Hempstead R.N.
Patricia Gilleaudeau N.P.

Contact Information:
Peggy Hempstead
Rockefeller University
1230 York Avenue
New York, NY 10065
Telephone: 212-327-SMELL (7635)
Enrollment Status:
Closed to Enrollment

Brief Summary of Protocol:
The reason for doing this research is to understand why some people are able to tell two odors apart whereas the same odors smell the same to others. To test this we use three pairs of odors that are so similar that some people can tell them apart and some people can't. We are interested in finding out whether these individual differences are genetic, that is caused by differences in our genes. Humans have about 1000 genes for odorant receptors. These are the molecules that bind and detect odor molecules in our nose and allow us to tell so many different odors apart. It has been shown that some of these genes exist in two forms: a functional one and one that has been mutated and is therefore no longer functional. We think that people who can't tell two similar odors apart may carry the non-functional form of the gene for the receptor that detects one of these odors but not the other. To test this idea we want to find people who can tell the two odors apart and people who can't tell the odors apart, and compare genes involved in odor perception.

Detailed Description of Protocol:
The whole study consists of two visits. The procedures on the two visits are identical with the exception that only at the first visit we will draw a venous blood sample (1/2 Tablespoon) from which we will prepare genomic DNA. At both visits you will be asked to sniff odorants and report what you are smelling. The odorants will be presented in small glass vials. In one type of experiment you will be asked which of three glass vials has an odor different from the other two. In another type of experiment you will be asked which one of two vials has a stronger odor and in yet another type of experiment you will be asked to identify words that describe what you smell. All these tests will be self-administered at a computer terminal. The six different odors you will be smelling are (-)-carvone, (+)-carvone, isovaleric acid, isobutyric acid, androstenone, and androstadienone. In the experiment in which you are asked to identify words that describe the six odors, you will be asked to smell and describe the odor vanillin prior to describing the six test odors in order to familiarize yourself with the computer program. Some of these odors smell unpleasant and you may not be able to smell others at all.
- The two visits have to be more than 5 but less than 20 days apart.
- An entire visit will take approximately 3 hours.
- You will be asked to wash your hands with an appropriate antiseptic soap or solution at the beginning and at the end of the testing.

What specifically makes a person eligible for the study?
You may be eligible to enter this study:

Healthy non-smokers between 18 and 50 years of age and who:
- not allergic to any odors or fragrances
- do not have a history of nasal illness you do not currently suffer from an upper respiratory infection or seasonal allergy
- have never had endoscopic surgery on your nose to correct a sinus condition or to have nasal polyps removed
- do not have a history of a medical condition that reduced or abolished your sense of smell, such as: head injury, cancer therapy, radiation to head and neck, or alcoholism



Children permitted to participate:

Potential Benefits.....
There will be no benefit to you. Instead, others may benefit in the future from what we learn from this study.

We will give you for each of the two visits. If there are problems with the blood sample and we need to ask you back for a second sample, we will pay you an additional . Payment will be made to participants who fill out a form from The Rockefeller University Finance Office and are eligible for and want to receive payment.