Busse, a researcher in the Department of Cellphysiology at Germany's Ruhr-University Bochum, and her team not only identified five different types of olfactory receptors in human skin keratinocytes (the predominant type of cell in the epidermis), but they also cloned one of them, called OR2AT4.
The scientists next exposed the target smeller cells to the compound Sandalore, which is a synthetic sandalwood odorant. Busse and her team focused on sandalwood because, for at least 4,000 years, oil from the East Asian sandalwood tree has been prized both as a perfume and as a medicinal agent for the skin.
Busse and colleagues explained that they used a synthetic sandalwood odorant because, "In the past years, the development of synthetic sandalwood molecules has led to a series of substitutes that are often used in cosmetics, deodorants and perfumes because the essential sandalwood oil obtained from the East Asian sandalwood tree is quite rare and is therefore an expensive substance."
The researchers found that Sandalore activated the cloned smeller cells in skin, thereby inducing a calcium-signaling cascade that dramatically increased the proliferation and migration of cells. This process is characteristic of wound healing.