In the first instance, using the kit will result in a clinical trial that will have the medical and scientific community making history in their support of sectors most affected by the loss of the sense of smell. The clinical trial will also create a knowledge base for the future.
Aiming to serve the community and based on its technical and scientific capabilities, UA has joined hands with Sogrape in the search for an effective solution in the treatment and rehabilitation of olfactory disorders. Enter TOP COVID — a 100% plant-based kit to retrain the sense of smell in patients with olfactory disorder, including those affected by COVID-19.
The TOP COVID kit – Treino Olfativo Pacientes COVID-19 (olfactory training for COVID-19 patients) – consists of five natural aroma discs, created from preservative-free, 100% plant-based raw materials, such as rosemary powder, tangerine peel and pomace powder from the Baga grape variety, Touriga Nacional pomace powder with aniseeds, ginger powder and Baga pomace powder, and oregano leaves. The selection of these products was based on the rational usage of the natural resources and on the fact that they are products the Portuguese population is familiar with, evidencing a potential to trigger positive olfactory memories associated with food and nature that allowed the project to create several notes of aromas, each of different intensity.
As a partner in the project, Sogrape contributed with its know-how in the analysis of the aromas, and supplied the plant material in the kit, with a special mention to the grapes of a variety present in many Portuguese wines: Touriga Nacional, sourced from the company’s estates in the Douro Region. “As a long time partner of the University of Aveiro, Sogrape joined this project right away. Its aim is to create scientific knowledge to support the Community with an initiative that follows the company’s commitment to Sustainability and, more specifically, benefits the winemaking sector that has an inextricable relationship with the sense of smell”, explained Miguel Pessanha, Board Member at Sogrape and oenologist.
Olfactory disorders have a direct impact on the quality of life, especially for those, such as oenologists, sommeliers, perfumers and chefs, who rely on the olfactory sense in their professional work. Far from being exclusive to an infection by SARS CoV-2, this pandemic has brought olfactory disorders into the spotlight, as they are among the most common symptoms of the disease.
It is why the research group specialized in the chemistry of aromas and natural products from the University of Aveiro developed the TOP COVID kit. According to Sílvia M. Rocha, professor at the Chemistry Department and team leader of the UA research group, “It is crucial to understand what type of molecules released by the aroma discs are most effective in recovering the sense of smell, and whether their impact
is the same across the different types of olfactory disorders. This knowledge, which may be created by combining data from different areas, is crucial to developing future clinical intervention strategies.”
In the first phase of the project, 100 kits were produced and donated to the Baixo Vouga Hospital Centre. Through a clinical trial in collaboration with the UA, it will now assess the efficacy of the kit in training and regenerating the olfactory epithelium in individuals with confirmed loss of the sense of smell and/or olfactory disorders resulting from a COVID-19 infection.
It is also worth noting that this kit was developed based on a strong commitment to product sustainability. The materials are recyclable and the plant-based materials used to produce the discs were selected with the promotion of local and Portuguese products in mind. There is also the possibility of commercialising this kit at a later stage.
Since it was founded in Portugal more than 75 years ago, Sogrape has always demonstrated a gift for anticipating the future. Back in 1942, in the middle of the World War II, the vision of its founder, Fernando Van Zeller Guedes, was to demonstrate the quality of Portuguese wines to the world and conquer consumers with a light and refreshing rosé.
From a single winery in the Douro Valley, focused on the production of Mateus Rose, the company has become global, doing business in more than 120 markets and owning c.1,600 hectares of vineyards in Portugal, Spain, Chile, Argentina and New Zealand. To offer top quality wines and great brands is a common belief shared by all group companies now spread throughout 10 countries.
Today, it is the combination of a family spirit with a peak performing team culture that keeps taking the company forward, with Fernando da Cunha Guedes, President and 3rd generation of the founding family, firmly at the helm.