London, April 17 : A medicine prescribed to asthmatics may help restore the sense of smell among people with "hyposmia", a reduced ability to detect and recognise odours, according to a new study.
Robert Henkin and his colleagues at the Center for Molecular Nutrition and Sensory Disorders in Washington DC say that their study builds on a previous study, which showed that people with hyposmia have low levels of two proteins in the nasal lining called cAMP and cGMP.
The researcher studied 369 people, 314 of whom were suffering from hyposmia.
They administered to the subjects various doses of theophylline, a drug used to treat asthma that is known to inhibit the breakdown of cAMP and cGMP.
Standard trials conducted at the end of the study showed that the sense of smell had improved in 70 per cent of the participants receiving the treatment.
"They wanted to become completely normal," New Scientist magazine quoted Henkin as saying.
The researcher further revealed that the improvements disappeared when people stopped taking the drug.
The study was presented at a meeting of the American Physiological Society in San Diego this week.