Could The Smell Of Sandalwood Help Treat Leukaemia?

Researchers have found that synthetic sandalwood can kill cancer cells in patients with a particular kind of leukaemia, which could lead to new treatments.

We may use our noses to smell things but there are smell sensors - olfactory receptors - all over our bodies including in our blood. 

Scientists working at Essen University Hospital and Ruhr-Universität Bochum found olfactory sensors in white blood cells. 

In particular, a receptor known as OR2AT4 is receptive to sandalwood (they found seven receptors in total and are experimenting with other odours).

When OR2AT4 was exposed to a synthetic sandalwood scent known as Sandalore, the scientists saw that it caused cancer cells to die in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia. 

Exposing the cell to sadalore caused a chemical reaction that saw a rush of calcium ion Ca2+ flood the cell. The researchers also found that the same synthetic sandalwood slows creation of white blood cells, in specific circumstances. 

In patients suffering from myeloid leukaemia, too many immature white blood cells are created in the spinal cord. 

If this research can be turned into a medication that slows, stops and destroys these cells, it could literally mean the difference between life and death. 

Professor Hans Hatt, one of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum scientists, told Cell Death Discovery, “Acute myeloid leukaemia in particular is a disease for which specific medication is not, as yet, available.”

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