A test to detect Parkinson’s disease using a Scottish woman’s sense of smell

A test to detect Parkinson's disease using a Scottish woman's sense of smell

Announcement by Catherine Falls/Getty Images A latex-gloved hand holds a small clear tube and dips a cotton swab into the liquid. Copy space.

Announcement by Catherine Falls/Getty Images

Detection of Parkinson’s disease could be done long before the first symptoms appear.

SCIENCE – Being able to detect Parkinson’s disease through the sense of smell. This is the story of Joy Milne, a 72-year-old Scottish woman. She claimed to have felt a change in her husband’s scent, a “musky scent”, six years before being diagnosed. A rare gift, which is actually a disease, which is why scientists at the University of Manchester are developing a new screening test based on this extraordinary ability. The results of their study were published in the Journal of the American Chemical SocietySeptember 7, 2022, and broadcast on the Telegram.

In lab tests, Joy Milne was able to identify sick people by sniffing out plain, previously worn T-shirts. She also detected the disease on the T-shirt of a person who was well but tested positive eight months later.

Scientists then thought the odor might be caused by a chemical change in the skin’s oil, sebum, which is caused by Parkinson’s disease. They compared swabs from 79 affected people with those from a control group of 71 healthy people.

Bingo: In 2019 they announced that they had identified molecules linked to the disease in skin samples. Then they develop the test: with a simple cotton swab passed over the back of the neck, they collect a sample that they examine to identify the molecules related to the disease. And so detect it.

Parkinson’s disease is neurodegenerative and the second most common disease in France after Alzheimer’s disease. It is characterized by tremors and difficulty moving.

Better detect the disease

Although this test still needs confirmation, scientists are excited to implement it: the current diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is based on the patient’s symptoms and history, according to the English magazine. evening standard.

According to Professor Perdita Barran, leader of the research group, whose comments are transmitted by the Telegram, “There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but a confirmatory diagnosis would allow those affected to receive the appropriate treatment and obtain medications that will help alleviate their symptoms. »

Same story with Joy Milne, who said she was “unacceptable” that people with Parkinson’s disease have such severe neurological damage at the time of diagnosis: “I believe that it should be detected much earlier, as is the case with cancer and diabetes; Earlier diagnosis means much more effective treatment and a better way of life for people. »

Joy Milne works on other diseases

The 72-year-old Scotsman is used to collaborating with scientists. Currently, he is trying to find out if he can smell cancer or tuberculosis. In fact, she herself suffers from a rare disease, which gives her this highly developed sense of smell.

she describes it as “a curse and a blessing”explaining that he can sometimes smell people with Parkinson’s when he’s in the supermarket, but medical ethicists have told him he can’t tell them, according to the Telegram.

“What doctor would accept a man or woman walking in saying ‘the woman who smells like Parkinson’s told me I have it’? » She asks before adding: “Maybe in the future, but not now. »

See also in The HuffPost: “Allergic To Gravity,” This American Must Spend 23 Hours A Day In Bed

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