This Woman Can Tell If People Have Parkinson's Just By Smelling Them

This Woman Can Tell If People Have Parkinson's Just By Smelling Them Hero Image

Well, superpowers are officially real.

Joy Milne, a 65-year old Scottish woman, has a very unique one: She can smell Parkinson's disease, reports the BBC. Yes, like, with her nose.

Long before her late husband Les passed away from the disease at age 65 this past June, she could tell that his odor changed. "It was very subtle," she said. "A musky smell."

But she only made the connection when her husband was diagnosed, and she joined the charity Parkinson’s UK, where she met people with that same distinct odor.

Milne mentioned this strange coincidence to scientists at a talk, and obviously, they were intrigued. They tested her and now think she could revolutionize the way Parkinson's is diagnosed.

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For the test, scientists from Edinburgh University had her smell the shirts of 12 people: six who had been diagnosed with the disease and six who hadn’t. Not only did she correctly identify those who had already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, she also managed to detect the smell on a "control" subject who was only diagnosed with the disease eight months later.

Now, the scientists are trying to find a way to pick up on that odor without the use of Milne's olfactory system. They hope to find a "molecular signature” of the odor — which they believe is caused by changes in the skin — and then develop a test as simple as a swab test.

Parkinson's remains a very difficult disease to diagnose (it's really only based on observation of symptoms), so if they can, in fact, find this "signature," the lives of those living with the disease could be transformed completely.

(h/t BBC)

Photo Credit: Herald Scotland/Twitter


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