A Scottish woman’s super sense of smell could change the way Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed.
Joy Milne’s husband, Les, died in June, aged 65. He worked as a consultant anaesthetist before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 45. She says: “His smell changed and it seemed difficult to describe. It wasn’t all of a sudden. It was very subtle – a musky smell.”
Edinburgh University decided to test her – and she was very accurate. Her job was to smell a T-shirt worn by each subject, then tell researchers who had Parkinson’s and who didn’t. Her accuracy was 12 out of 12.
Researchers hope to find the molecular signature responsible for the odor and then develop a simple test such as wiping a person’s forehead with a swab. Researchers say that a diagnostic test like this could cut through current diagnosing difficulty, enable people to go in and see a consultant, have a simple swab test and come out with a clear diagnosis of Parkinson’s, enabling earlier treatment options.
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