Parkinson’s Disease is the last thing you want to develop. There are no specific tests to diagnose this condition, but neurologists can figure out if you have it or not based on your medical history, a review of your symptoms and a neurological and physical exam. But now there’s another way to detect the condition early on, but you’ll have to pay a visit to Joy Milne, a retired nurse in Perth. She can tell you if you have Parkinson’s just by smelling you.
The disease affects the brain’s basal ganglia leading to a lack of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This leads to imprecise movement, muscular rigidity, and the most obvious symptom, which are bouts of tremors.
She first heard of Joy Milne from Tito Kunath, one of her colleagues at the University of Edinburgh. He had told her about Joy’s ability to smell Parkinson’s disease. Then another friend encouraged her to seek out this extraordinary woman.
It turns out that she’s a super smeller. People like her are also called “noses” and are often used in the perfume and food and drink industries. But people with Parkinson’s emit a certain odor that she could detect, too.
They asked patients with Parkinson’s and people who didn’t have it to sleep in identical t-shirts. Joy was Then, they presented the t-shirts to Joy one at a time. Then whiff after whiff, she managed to identify which t-shirt belonged to Parkinson’s patients.
The combination of chemicals produced the smell of Parkinson’s. But how does this disease smell? People like Joy describe it as a musky scent similar to the way a beaver smells. Hopefully, people like Joy could be the key to catching this condition and developing early treatments in the future.