WEDNESDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Mice genetically engineered to have inflamed nasal passages may help researchers learn more about loss of smell due to chronic sinusitis.
"A sense of smell in good working order is essential to our quality of life, and these genetically engineered mice give us the first real animal model for better understanding, treating and preventing people from suffering a loss of olfactory function due to sinonasal inflammation," Dr. Andrew Lane, leader of the team that developed the mouse, said in a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine news release.
"And because we can turn on and off the inflammation in these mice, we really can mimic how the most overlooked and very disabling aspect of sinusitis, the loss of smell, or anosmia, plays out in people," said Lane, an associate professor at Hopkins.
He described the mice at a presentation Tuesday at the International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste, in San Francisco.
"Until now, the lack of realistic animal models for each of the key symptoms of chronic inflammation in the nasal tissue -- such as the growth of nasal polyps, the loss of the sense of smell, swollen sinus tissue, or clogged and runny noses -- has slowed sinusitis research and hindered our search for therapies," said Lane, director of the Johns Hopkins sinus center.
The mice may help researchers find alternatives to long-term treatment with steroids, which block the inflammatory chemical pathway but also cause serious side effects such as loss of bone density, eye cataracts and weight gain.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about sinusitis.
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