The Google team along with Alex Wiltschko and Richard Gerkin have accomplished a remarkable feat by mapping the scent of molecules and digitizing the sense of smell, . By doing so, the team has opened up the possibility of discovering new odors and molecules.
The researchers validated their model against new molecules, linked their findings to biological odor mechanisms, and expanded their results to find new approaches to global health challenges. This transformational research’s real-world applications are beyond exciting.
The names of the smells that various molecules are said to evoke, such as meaty, floral, or mint, were combined with thousands of examples of those molecules in a graph neural network (GNN) model that Google AI created in 2019. This approach was necessary to study the correlation between a molecule’s structure and its likelihood of having a specific odor label.
The page object model (POM) displayed pairs of odors perceived similarly as close-by points with a similar hue. The Google AI researchers show how we can use the map to understand these properties in introductory biology, predict the future odor properties of molecules, and address urgent global health issues. Several tests have already run on the map.
Test 1: Testing with molecules that did not correlate with odors
The researchers tested the fundamental model to see if it could accurately predict the smells of novel molecules they didn’t include in its development.
Test 2: Linking odor quality to the fundamental biology
The researchers tested the odor map to see if it could predict animal odor perception and the underlying brain activity. They discovered that it accurately predicted the behavior of most of the animals studied by neurologists, including mice and insects, and the activity of sensory receptors, neurons, and synapses.
Test 3: To address the global health problem
The odor map opens up new possibilities because it closely relates to animal perception and biology. They chose to retrain the POM to manage one of humanity’s most significant issues: the spread of diseases carried by ticks and mosquitoes. In general, the POM can be used to predict animal olfaction.