There’s a gene for detecting that fishy smell, olfactory GWAS shows — ScienceDaily

For many people, the smell of fish is rather strong and unpleasant. But some people carry a mutation in a particular gene that makes that fish odor less intense, reports a paper publishing October 8 in the journal Current Biology. The study, which is the largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) of olfactory genes in humans involving a sniff test and looked at over 9,000 people from Iceland, also shows that people vary in their ability to discern the smell of licorice and cinnamon.

“We discovered sequence variants that influence how we perceive and describe fish, licorice, and cinnamon odors,” said Rosa Gisladottir of deCODE Genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland. “Since our sense of smell is very important for the perception of flavor, these variants likely influence whether we like food containing these odors.”

Researchers have known that people perceive odors based on olfactory receptors encoded by 855 olfactory genes. But

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Researchers recommend population-wide screening for detecting mutation carriers — ScienceDaily

Tel Aviv University researchers suggest that carriers of the genetic mutations PiZ and PiS are at high risk for severe illness and even death from COVID-19. These mutations lead to deficiency in the alpha1-antitrypsin protein, which protects lung tissues from damage in case of severe infections. Other studies have already associated deficiency in this protein with inflammatory damage to lung function in other diseases.

The study was led by Prof. David Gurwitz, Prof. Noam Shomron, and MSc candidate Guy Shapira of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, and published in The FASEB Journal on September 22, 2020.

The researchers analyzed data from 67 countries on all continents. Comparisons revealed a highly significant positive correlation between the prevalence of the two mutations in the population and COVID-19 mortality rates (adjusted to size of the population) in many countries, such as the USA, the UK, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and more.

Consequently, the researchers

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