A groundbreaking test to detect Parkinson's disease in patients is on its way, thanks in part to a woman who is a "super-queen", according to a new study published Wednesday.
Researchers from Manchester, England, have teamed up with Joy Milne, a former nurse who has the ability to smell the degenerative neurological disorder on patients.
They found that Parkinson's sufferers secreted a unique musk compared to those without, according to a study published in the journal ACS Central Science
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There is no specific test to definitively diagnose the disease, causing tremors, speech changes, rigid muscles, and slow movements. It is typically diagnosed by a neurologist.
Milne from Perth, Scotland, discovered the foul-smelling phenomenon years before her husband Les Parkinson was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1
The so-called "super smasher" said she discovered a woody, musky odor on him.
"Joy has an extremely sensitive sense of smell and allows her to recognize and distinguish smells that are not normally recognized by people with average smelling ability," the study notes.
The researchers focused on sebum, a lipid-based, waxy fluid that is excreted from the skin, mainly in areas such as the forehead and upper back. Excessive sebum production is also one of the known symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
The upper backs of 64 people – 43 with Parkinson's and 21 without – were wiped off and tested. The study found that the sebum found in Parkinson's patients was composed of hippuric acid, eicosan and octadecanal – giving the signature fragrance.
CHINESE WOMAN BRINGS FRUIT TACKS IN HER BOD, ALMOST THIS: 19659003] Milne's disease-sensing sense of smell was used to cement the results. It confirmed the tell-tale odor when samples prepared in the laboratory were placed in a controlled olfactory environment.
The researchers acknowledged the limited scope of the study, but said that the results are in the nose.
"Identification and Quantification of Associated Compounds With this characteristic [Parkinson’s disease]the odor could allow rapid, early screening of PD, as well as provide insights into molecular changes that occur in the course of the disease, and enable future stratification of the disease", said the study.
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. A larger study with "smells in both humans and dogs" is planned.
The unconventional findings could one day lead to an earlier detection of Parkinson's disease, which is more than the result is 10 million people worldwide, including actor Michael J. Fox.
Stern's Michael J. Fox Foundation funded the new research with Parkinson UK.
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