Today’s Headlines: Smelling Skin, Typing and Poop Pills

Smell is sensed by more than your nose. While the nose has long been thought to be the main receptor for molecules wafting through the air, it turns out other organs may be doing some sniffing. “Over the last decade or so, scientists have discovered that odor receptors are not solely confined to the nose, but found throughout body where they play a pivotal role in a host of physiological functions.” Now researchers have found that skin is highly sensitive to smells in the air. “More than 15 of the olfactory receptors that exist in the nose are also found in human skin cells. Not only that, but exposing one of these receptors (colorfully named OR2AT4) to a synthetic sandalwood odor known as Sandalore sets off a cascade of molecular signals that appears to induce healing in injured tissue.” Skin abrasions bathed in the scent of Sandalore healed 30% faster than those without the smell, which the researchers say “could lead to cosmetic products for aging skin and to new treatments to promote recovery after physical trauma.” (NYT)

Typing on that touch screen may be hurting your shoulders. We all love our digital devices, but the changes in daily activities they’ve brought may not all be for the better. A study has found that typing on a tablet keyboard for long periods of time could cause chronic shoulder issues. “The small study found touch screen, or virtual, keyboards, which lack a feedback mechanism indicating a key has been pressed, require less typing force and finger-muscle activity than conventional keyboards. But tablet users must keep their fingers hovering above the keyboard to avoid accidentally activating the keys. That can lead to prolonged static loading in the shoulders, a form of muscle exertion caused by not moving.” In having to hold one’s hands floating above the keyboard, the forearms seemed to do less work, but shoulders end up doing more. Over time, that could lead to shoulder issues. (Fox)

Fecal transplants work well when taken as pill. The emergence of antibiotic resistance brought the blight of C. difficile infection to hospitals. The nasty bug infects the colon of some recently treated with antibiotics whose immune systems don’t work as well as they normally should. The infection can be deadly. Treatment with antibiotics has proven difficult, but researchers have shown that giving a poop enema from a healthy donor can have a 90-100% success rate when all else fails. “In a study published Saturday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers report that the same success rate can be reached by processing the healthy excrement into capsules and administering the pills by mouth.” The researchers concentrated the mixture normally given by enema into a pill that’s taken frozen. “A single treatment requires a gulp-worthy 30 pills—15 on the first day and 15 on the second. In a trial of 20 patients, it brought normal bowel health and function to 18—which is the same rate of success seen in more invasive methods.” (Washington Post)