New tech targets sense of smell loss in Covid-19 patients

By Julia Wray | Published: 5-Nov-2021

Ma Madeleine is a web application that works in tandem with an olfactory rehabilitation kit

For former Covid-19 patients who are still struggling to regain their sense of smell, help may be at hand.

Flavour and fragrance specialist Givaudan, together with a team of academics and medical professionals, has unveiled Ma Madeleine, a web application that works in tandem with an olfactory rehabilitation kit.

The platform is the result of a partnership comprising Université Côte d'Azur, Nice University Hospital, digital firm onepoint and Givaudan’s Perfumery School, supported by the Givaudan Foundation.

Ma Madeleine is said to comprise a reusable kit, which is guided by a web application and supervised by a speech pathologist, to help repair patients’ sense of smell post illness.

According to the partnership, when disorders affecting the sense of smell persist, olfactory rehabilitation is required, and Ma Madeleine is a specific olfactory rehabilitation method targeting the re-education of the semantic network for gradual improvements in the sense of smell and taste.

Ma Madeleine is currently being used in the rehabilitation centre at Nice University Hospital in the South of France and the results of this evaluation will be available in 2022.

Dr Clair Vandersteen, an ENT surgeon at Nice University Hospital, said: “This is a wonderful example of a multidisciplinary collaboration resulting in scientifically innovative ways to help people who have had their sense of smell affected because of an illness.

“In particular, Ma Madeleine gives hope to people who would like to erase one of the main scars while recovering from the Covid-19 illness.”

“The Foundation’s involvement in this project is wholly in line with our mission and with Givaudan’s Purpose of creating for healthier and happier lives,” added Givaudan Foundation Lead Laetitia Vuillemenot.

“We’re thrilled to partner with renowned institutions and with Givaudan volunteers, who are offering their guidance and expertise in the area of olfaction to better the lives of those who have been affected by various illnesses.”

According to the UK’s NHS, some people with Covid-19 lose their sense of smell because the virus damages the olfactory receptor nerve endings or supporting olfactory cells within their nose.

And such symptoms can be long-lasting.

An April 2021 study, published in the journal JAMA and conducted by researchers at Danderyd Hospital and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, revealed that eight months after mild Covid-19, one in ten people still had at least one moderate to severe symptom perceived as having a negative impact on their work, social or home life.

These include a loss of smell and/or taste, and fatigue.

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