Researchers Discover ‘Bionic Nose’ To Aid Those with Loss of Smell

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One to two percent of Americans experience scent issues that worsen as they age. Anosmia, or the partial or whole loss of the ability to smell, can be caused by various ailments, including brain traumas and illnesses like COVID-19. Because of COVID, an estimated 15 million persons globally may experience persistent odor issues, according to Research published in The BMJ journal. 

The Washington Post reported that A bionic gadget created by two scientists at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine might help millions of people suffering from a loss of scent. North Carolina nurse practitioner Craig Jerome developed covid two years earlier. He no longer can smell and yet has anosmia. “Emotionally, it caused grief,” said Jerome, who misses particular aromas like the aroma of a Christmas tree, which brings back pleasant recollections of his childhood. 

Richard Costanzo and Daniel Coelho hope that their neuro-prosthetic, which they call a “bionic nose,” would aid Jerome and those with similar conditions. However, according to Costanzo, head of Research for the VCU Smell and Taste Disorders Centre in Richmond, it will take five to ten years for a fully developed prototype to be prepared for patient implantation and testing. 

Before the pandemic, according to Costanzo, he had the concept for the gadget while trying to permanently help those who had lost their sense of smell. He started working with Coelho, an otolaryngology professor and surgeon because the olfactory implant they are developing is conceptually similar to a cochlear implant that Coelho uses to help his patients hear. 

According to Costanzo, whose Research was conducted alongside Coelho and other researchers, the necessity for the device has increased due to covid. 7.5% of patients in their Research who had anosmia after getting covid at the start of 2020 claimed that they still did not have their sense of smell two years later. 

According to Costanzo, some patients’ olfactory detecting cells in the nose have been seriously harmed by Covid. He explained that odors are not recognized without these cells, and messages are not transmitted to the brain’s olfactory area. 

Other patients recover partially from their sense of smell thanks to some of these cells, but “often they are not normal, and people report distortions in smell perception, often unpleasant sensations,” the doctor stated. 

Costanzo and Coelho used microelectronics and computing technology, including artificial intelligence, to create their bionic nose. By bypassing the damaged olfactory cells, they use an implanted electrode array to activate the brain directly.  

According to Costanzo, to create “unique digital fingerprints based on various smells,” a microprocessor chip will receive signals from a small external odor sensor device. A device inside the skull will receive the information from the chip via specific radio wave frequencies, stimulating the parts of the brain that produce a particular olfactory impression or sensation. 

The odor sensor component and the processor chip are both linked to an eyeglass frame in the present prototype. Still, Costanzo suggested they may go on other items as well, including a bracelet. 



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