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Follow Your Nose – Biosensors of Human Olfactory Perception

Prof. Dr. Hanns Hatt holds a chair of cell physiology at the Ruhr-University Bochum. For his pioneering work on the secrets of smelling, Prof. Dr. Hanns Hatt will receive the prestigious Research Prize of the Philip Morris Foundation in Munich on 8 June 2005.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. med. habil. Hanns Hatt


Last year, the Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology went to the two American scientists L. Buck and R. Axel for their discovery of the olfactory receptor gene family in 1991.


In humans, the activating odours of only two of the 350 functioning genes are known yet. Both were identified at the Ruhr-University Bochum.


The first human olfactory receptor was isolated on chromosome 17 and functionally characterised in 1999. In several tests with mixes of odour molecules from different chemical groups, Helional was the only activating scent for the hOR 17-40 receptor that could be identified - an odour like a fresh sea breeze.


The same method was used recently to characterise another human receptor: hOR 17-4. And the activating odour was identified as Cyclamal, a synthetic lily of the valley odour.


Furthermore, from the current research it can be concluded that olfactory receptors interfere with our body functions in different places far beyond olfactory perception and play a much more important role than has been assumed up to now.


Currently the only laboratory in the world, the institute at the Ruhr-University Bochum has all the opportunities to identify all of the approximately 350 existing human olfactory receptor genes and to create a complete image of the nose as a biosensor.


This would allow different uses ranging from the field of quality control of food and perfumes through diagnostic investigation in the medical field to the analysis of dangerous materials such as explosives or drugs.



Dr. Sylvia Deutschmann

Life Science Agency, Düsseldorf

Statement of the organiser


Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. med. habil. H. Hatt

Chair of Cell Physiology

Ruhr-University Bochum

Follow Your Nose – Biosensors of Human Odor Perception


Prof. Dr. Peter Zec

Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, Essen

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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Uvo Hölscher

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Prof. Dr. Rainer M. M. Seibel

Mülheim Radiology Institute

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