At first glance, Joy Milne, a widow from Perth, Scotland, seems an unlikely candidate for completely changing the way doctors think about Parkinson's. But her remarkable nose has convinced British scientists to search for a new way to diagnose the disease, which now can only be discovered by observing the tell-tale symptoms--the tremors, loss of balance, and rigid muscles.
It all started with Milne's late husband, who died of Parkinson's. But six years before he was diagnosed, Milne noticed that he smelled differently. "His smell changed. It wasn't all of a sudden. It was very subtle--a musky smell," she told the BBC. But she only linked the smell to Parkinson's after volunteering for a charity and noticing those who had the disease had the same odor.
When she mentioned this to scientists, they were curious enough to test her. They took 12 people, six with the condition, and six without. Milne smelled their shirts, and diagnosed Parkinson's in seven people--the six with Parkinson's, and one who didn't have it, yet. Later, that person got a positive diagnosis, which floored the scientists.
Now they are investigating the chemical change in the skin that produces this signature odor, and hoping to find a simple forehead swab that can help doctors discover the disease. Said the head of the Scottish branch of Parkinson's UK: "A simple test is potentially transformational and life-changing for the people living with Parkinson's." The earlier the disease is detected, the more effective treatments can be.
Meet the woman who says she can "'smell" Parkinson's disease » http://bbc.in/1LNGQWUPosted by BBC Scotland News on Thursday, October 22, 2015
Meet the woman who says she can "'smell" Parkinson's disease » http://bbc.in/1LNGQWU
via BBC News