We now know that there are two layers of stem cells in the nose that allow it to function and defend the nose against the damaging effects of harsh chemicals. The first layer is the most primitive kind of stem cells and they are designed to repair damage to olfactory nerves. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have recently discovered the second layer of stem cells which they say is a final backup when the nose has run out of other healing resources. Randall Reed who led the Johns Hopkins researchers says "These stem cells act like the Army Reserves of our nose. They don't come in until things are really bad."
In addition to the stem cell discoveries, more is being learned about how the nose detects different odors. Much of this research is being done because attempts are underway to make electronic noses that can smell for terrorist materials. The mucus in our noses that we call "snot" is very important. Not only does it collect debris that gets into the nose so that it can be removed, but it also keeps the nose moist and breaks down molecules of what is smelled into the separate scents that we detect. We have 100 million receptors in our noses which help us identify all of the different materials that we smell. The best electronic smellers right now have about 50 receptors.
We have always known that the nasal nerves and the taste nerves in our tongue give us the sensation of flavor, but we are growing in our appreciation of all that our nasal tissues do. It certainly brings to mind again David's statement "I am fearfully and wonderfully made--your works are wonderful" (Psalm 139:14). Data from Science and Spirit, July/August 2007, page 12.
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