North Carolina Patent of the Month – November 2022

It’s well known that we often lose our sight and hearing as we age. Unfortunately, our sense of smell goes much the same way. While this loss in olfactory function can be the result of trauma or normal physiological changes from aging, it has also been linked to cognitive disorders. Namely, the ability to identify and discriminate odors, as well as the odor threshold, can be altered in cognitive disorders. Recent research has indicated that this change might occur as an early manifestation and may offer insight into diagnostics. Early diagnosis can help get treatment in time to slow or even reverse cognitive decline.

Olfaxis, LLC has designed and patented an olfactory testing system to provide a standardized approach to assessing a patient. As a part of this standardized test, data will be collected to populate a central database to be used in automated quantitative comparison of a patient against the standardized measures. The patient is subjected to standardized odorants with specific concentrations and strengths and made to answer questions in order to quantify data on the patient’s sensitivity and odor identification ability. These answers would be analyzed and compared against the database of a related demographic.

For instance, a 60-year old female might be assessed on her odor detection ability of something like cinnamaldehyde, which is the flavonoid responsible for the way cinnamon smells. Her quantified ability to detect a given concentration of the odorant would be analyzed and compared against other 60-year old females, her own threshold at a younger age, and then against a combination of the other 60-year old females and their threshold at a younger age. This creates a robust and well-standardized analysis.

The benefit of this standardized test as an indicator or predictor of cognitive impairment is that it can be easily performed across all age groups with consistency. Regular testing will also support the early detection of changes in cognitive function, helping to ensure treatment can be implemented as soon as possible.

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