Small molecules contained in sebum excreted by the skin are responsible for a smell unique in people affected by Parkinson's. The discovery of researchers at the University of Manchester may lead to the development of a test for diagnose early illness. An analysis to date not available in medicine. Scientists already knew that Parkinson's could cause excessive sebum production.
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They have been recruiting Joy Milne, a former nurse at the University of Manchester, for some time, who has noticed how people with the disease have a distinctive scent that increases with the progression of the disease. Millen had actually heard her husband's visible smell many years before she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Ena, who has a more developed sense of smell than usual, was involved in the work of Manchester researchers to use her special scent ability to develop a Parkinson's nasal recognition test at an early stage.
The project, called NoseToDiagnose, is coordinated by Perdita Baran's chemistry and includes 60 subjects, with and without Parkinson's. Researchers are checking their sebum for hippuric acid, eicosan and other chemicals that indicate altered levels of neurotransmitters that are usually present in patients with the disease. Based on the level of these molecules found in the test trials, the research team has developed a model that can identify and diagnose the disease in all its stages. "This test can have a huge impact not only for early or final diagnosis, but also to help monitor the effects of the treatments on patients," Perdita Barran explained.
However, olfactory diseases are not exclusively human. In fact, an international study has shown that dogs can "smell" lung cancer with an accuracy close to 97%. But this is only the latest in a long series of diseases these animals can recognize using only the nose: human friends can recognize diseases ranging from malaria, diabetes, prostate cancer and breast cancer. And precisely based on the concept that diseases can also be sniffed, Thor Vergata University experts have pioneered the so-called electronic nose for years: a device that captures odors and transmits data to a computer, which analyzes and enables diagnostics.
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