Making snotty scents

Mucus may play big role in the nose's job of smelling

By Stephen Ornes, 19:42 PM December 13, 2010

The enzymes in snot may help to change the chemical makeup of odors that enter the nose. Credit: ptaxa/iStock

Snot is often what shows up after a hard sneeze. It’s a constant companion of allergies and the common cold. It’s wet, sticky and — to most people — best left up the nose.

But snot, or mucus, also contains many different kinds of proteins. Those proteins may play an important role in something else that happens in the nose: smelling. In a recent study, researchers from Japan’s University of Tokyo showed that proteins in mucus change the makeup of odors before those scents even make it to ...

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