System and Method for Olfactory Enhancement


Technology: MUSC inventors have developed a system for implementing neuromodulation that dramatically improves the ability to smell odorants in patients who have experienced smell loss (anosmia).

The technology includes a wearable, noninvasive device that delivers electrical stimulation to the trigeminal nerve in both direct (sustained tonic administration of 1.5mA electricity) and pulsed (120HZ sine wave at 50% duty cycle).  The dose can be increased by increasing time, current intensity, or daily administration for 4-6 weeks to increase the effects.  Ranges of trigeminal nerve stimulation (TNS) administered may fall in the ranges of 0-10mA, frequency 1-150Hz.  Ranges of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) administered may in certain embodiments fall in the ranges of 0-4mA. The system leads to improvement in the ability to smell odorants by 18.5% in 30 minutes, significantly sustained for 30 minutes following stimulation compared to sham stimulation.  This was validated in a double-blind randomized trial in 20 individuals.


After stimulation, both TNS and tDCS improved ability to perceive GUA odorant (demonstrated as a positive inflection in this graph).  This effect was significant compared to sham at 30-minute follow-up, which suggests a durable, biologic improvement in odor sensitivity.


Overview: There are two discrete cranial nerve systems that are activated in response to odorants – the olfactory and trigeminal nerves.  These systems are integral to smell sensation in our daily lives. Not only are there individuals with complete smell loss (anosmia), but increased age, viral or bacterial infections, COVID, brain injury, and other neuropsychiatric issues can blunt the ability to smell odorants, also known as hyposmia.  23% of Americans over the age of 40 report alteration in their sense of smell, which rises to 32% for those over 80 years of age. Unfortunately, there are limited therapeutic interventions to improve smell and taste function.  Some of these treatments target the nasal passage, including decongestants, antihistamines, steroids, and reduction of nasal irritants.  Smell training, a behavioral intervention that requires months of daily smell practice, shows limited effectiveness due to the high burden and time requirement placed on patients. To date, there is no biological or brain-based treatment to improve smell or taste. The MUSC invention provides a brain-based therapeutic option currently not available on the market.


Applications: Smell Loss; Anosmia; Hyposmia



Improves Smell - Improves the ability to smell odorants by 18.5%

Time Efficient - More time efficient than typical smell training

Non-invasive – Electrodes are placed on the patient’s forehead


Key Words: Olfactory nerve; trigeminal nerve; anosmia; hyposmia; smell loss; electrical stimulation; brain-based therapy


Inventors: Bashar Badran and Bernadette Cortese                     


Patent Status:       US Provisional Patent Application 63/149,798 filed February 16, 2021 entitled System and Method of Olfactory Enhancement.              


MUSC-FRD Technology ID:       P21059

Licensing Status:               Available for licensing


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
zzFRD Admin/Archive
MUSC Foundation for Research Development
Bashar Badran
Bernadette Cortese
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