After her husband died of Parkinson’s disease, a 65 years old woman named Joy Milne told some scientists that she can say for sure which people are affected by Parkinson’s disease by smelling them. Mrs. Milne is known to have a high sense of smell and she claims that six years before her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease she had noticed a change of smell on him, described by her as “a musky smell”. What made her more aware of her “ability” was the moment she joined the Parkinson’s UK charity, where she picked up the same smell from other people affected by the disease.
Curious about Mrs. Milne’s claim that she can sniff Parkinson’s disease patients, scientists from The University of Manchester and the University of Edinburgh have decided to make a team and study if what the woman says is true. They gathered 12 volunteers, six were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and the other six weren’t.
The volunteers were asked to wear a shirt for a day and those shirts were given to Mrs. Milne, so she can smell them. What amazed scientists was that at the time she got them all right except for one shirt that she said it belonged to a Parkinson’s diagnosed patient. At the time that particular volunteer didn’t show any symptoms, but eight months later, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It was a surprise for the team to realize that the woman has got 12 out of 12 answers correctly, based on her sense of smell.
As a result they have started to consider that Parkinson’s disease might trigger some changes in the chemical structure of sebum, which can create a specific smell. Research has already started and if they manage to figure out what molecular structures are changed and how does that affect the sense of smell, they might find a better way to early diagnose Parkinson’s disease. As revealed in the study, if Parkinson’s patients are diagnosed even before showing any symptoms, early treatments can slow down the disease even better, giving these people better chances at a normal life.