Scientists have developed a test that uses a woman’s hypersensitive sense of smell to determine if someone has Parkinson’s disease.
Since it was discovered that Joy Milne could smell the disease, the test has been in development for years. The 72-year-old Scottish woman from Perth has a rare illness that sharpens her sense of smell.
She became aware of her late husband Les’ unusual odour when she was 33 years old, twelve years before his illness was identified. Areas of the brain affected by this condition gradually degenerated over an extended period of time.
The ‘lady with the Parkinson’s odour’ Milne noted the smell as being musky and dissimilar to his usual scent.
Her finding piqued the interest of scientists, who started to look into what she could smell and whether it could be used to detect people with neurological disorders.
Years later, scientists at the University of Manchester developed a test that effectively detects Parkinson’s disease in patients by using a simple cotton bud to run over the back of the neck.
Researchers can examine the sample and seek for molecules linked to the illness to determine if someone has it.
Even though research is still in its early phases, scientists are optimistic about the likelihood of the research being able to develop a simple test for the disease.