“For most of her life, Joy Milne had a superpower that she was totally oblivious to,” reports NPR. Long-time Slashdot reader doug141 explains what happened next:
Milne’s husband’s natural odor changed when he was 31. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 45. When Joy walked into a Parkinson’s support group, she smelled the same odor on everybody. A Parkinson’s researcher tested her with blind samples from early stage patients, late-stage patients, and controls…
NPR tells the story of that test, which took place at the University of Edinburgh with a Parkinson’s researcher named Tilo Kunath:
[O]ut of all the samples, Joy made only one mistake. She identified a man in the control group, the group without Parkinson’s, as having the disease. But many months later, Kunath says, that man actually approached him at an event and said, “Tilo, you’re going to have to put me in the Parkinson’s pile because I’ve just been diagnosed.”
It was incontrovertible: Joy not only could smell Parkinson’s but could smell it even in the absence of its typical medical presentation.
Kunath and fellow scientists published their work in ACS Central Science in March 2019, listing Joy as a co-author. Their research identified certain specific compounds that may contribute to the smell that Joy noticed on her husband and other Parkinson’s patients. Joy and her super smelling abilities have opened up a whole new realm of research, Kunath says… Joy’s superpower is so unusual that researchers all over the world have started working with her and have discovered that she can identify several kinds of illnesses — tuberculosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and diabetes.
Kunath says the ultimate goal is developing a new tool that can detect detect Parkinson’s early. “Imagine a society where you could detect such a devastating condition before it’s causing problems and then prevent the problems from even occurring.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Source: Slashdot – One Woman Can Smell Parkinson’s Disease Before Symptoms Manifest