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Taste Cell Regeneration

June 28, 2017

Research into how taste cells regenerate could help cancer patients and the elderly enjoy food again.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Restoring taste. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Each of our taste buds is made up of 50 to 100 cells specialized to detect salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and umami tastes. Together, they allow us to experience and enjoy the flavors of the food we eat. According to molecular neurobiologist Peihua Jiang, taste cells regenerate themselves every one to two weeks in most people. But those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation often complain of losing their sense of taste.

PEIHUA JIANG (Monell Chemical Senses Center):

So we think that’s mostly because taste stem cells cannot generate taste cells any longer.

HIRSHON:

In Scientific Reports, his team describes their efforts to understand the molecular and genetic pathways that turn stem cells into different types of taste cells. The  research could eventually help restore taste cells not only to cancer patients, but also to the elderly. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard