As a "grandmother" from the UK helped scientists detect Parkinson's disease through the smell



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A team of researchers identified the compounds produced by Parkinson's patients using the sense of smell.

This is all thanks to an elderly Scottish woman with a special ability to literally sniff out Parkinson's disease.

To date, there have been no reliable tests to detect the presence of the disease, making early intervention and treatment difficult.

But Joy Milne, 68, a retired nurse from Perth, helped scientists develop a form of diagnosis.

British teacher Perdita Barran explains that Milne first noticed the "musky" scent on her husband Les, who later became a Parkinson's patient.

30 years ago, the woman's husband began to smell different from her. 12 years later, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

When the couple began attending group sessions with others diagnosed with the patient, Milne recognized the same scent he had detected many years earlier.

After approaching researchers, Milne helped them develop a test that detected the smell of the molecules.

Professor Barran and his team set up a T-shirt screening test for Milne, which accurately identified all affected patients.

Scientists then simulated a woman's nose to use mass spectrometry to find compounds that are biomarkers for Parkinson's disease.

The professor explains that the development will help identify patients at risk and may improve the early diagnosis of the disease to prevent debilitating symptoms.

Joy Milne is Grammy from Perth, Scotland. She used to be a nurse and she has a good sense of smell.

Perdita Barran, Professor of Mass Spectrometry – The University of Manchester

It is also synesthetic, which means that it associates colors with smells. This helps to identify things.

Perdita Barran, Professor of Mass Spectrometry – The University of Manchester

She was able to detect the disease through this scent before the motor symptoms set in.

Perdita Barran, Professor of Mass Spectrometry – The University of Manchester

Listen to the interesting story on The John Maytham Show:


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