Nothing to sniff at

Published Feb. 9, 1993|Updated Oct. 8, 2005

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have found a protein in the nose that is responsible for turning off the nose's ability to smell an odor. The protein's presence is thought to be the reason the first whiff of wine or perfume seems the most intense, after which the scent seems to diminish, they said. Research on this protein could be important to the elderly, who lose their ability to smell. "Perhaps someday smoke detectors would emit a chemical that enhances smell by blocking desensitization," said Dr. Ted Dawson, an author of the research. The discovery of this protein might also lead to better drugs for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, asthma and congestive heart failure, the researchers said.

_ Reuters

New tack in AIDS drugs

A potential new class of AIDS drugs _ still untested in people but highly successful in cell cultures _ is described in a leading international journal by a large research team led by a San Francisco State University scientist. To avoid raising false or premature hope, the scientists were careful to note that the research is at an early stage. But scientists testing the new materials are unusually upbeat. They say the compounds should have few side effects, yet react vigorously with critical molecular machinery called zinc fingers that the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, uses to multiply. _ AP

First look at baby stars

Astronomers are pushing close to a long-sought but so far elusive goal: proving the existence of planets around stars other than the sun. They are finding increasing evidence that the "fodder" for making planets occurs naturally among most typical stars. A trio of astronomers using new technology announced that they had captured a glimpse of hundreds of sun-like stars at a previously unseen stage in the first blush of infancy. _ Washington Post

Identify what bugs you

Got strange looking bugs crawling around? Catch 'em, freeze 'em overnight, then ship 'em off to the University of Delaware, where Dewey Caron will identify them after opening the mail carefully. "They've sent them live to me _ black widow spiders. You open something up, and it flies out, and it's lovely chasing down ants," he said. Send your bugs to: The Department of Entomology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19717-1303. _ AP

Venom with vengeance

Two Russian scientists have an unusual request for their colleagues abroad: If you get any snake venom from Russia, see if it is radioactive. That information could help determine the extent of contamination from radioactive waste, nuclear accidents and nuclear explosions, the scientists said. Snake venom is used in research and in some medicines, such as anticoagulants. No medicine licensed in the United States contains snake venom, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said. _ AP

An important product

Moscow may be experiencing shortages of consumer goods and other items, but it is producing more scientific papers than any other city in the world, according to the Institute for Scientific Information. The institute, based in Philadelphia, tracks trends in 3,000 international science journals. In the December issue of its Science Watch newsletter, it said Moscow led the list of scientifically productive cities, producing more papers than Tokyo, Boston or Paris. _ New York Times

The handsome survive

The male peacock's brilliant tail, and similar physical excesses in male animals, may have resulted from the way females recognize males, a computer study suggests. Results show Charles Darwin may have been correct when he suggested that many female animals have a "sense of the beautiful," researchers said. The researchers created a computer simulation of a process a female bird could use to distinguish males of her own species from similar-looking males of another species. Her potential mates had slightly longer tails. _ AP