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  Newsmakers   19 Dec 2017  Woman who smells Parkinson's will help scientists create first diagnostic test

Woman who smells Parkinson's will help scientists create first diagnostic test

THE ASIAN AGE
Published : Dec 19, 2017, 6:40 pm IST
Updated : Dec 19, 2017, 6:40 pm IST

Joy describes Parkinson’s smell to be very thick and musky.

Joy describes Parkinson’s smell to be very thick and musky. (Photo: Pixabay)
 Joy describes Parkinson’s smell to be very thick and musky. (Photo: Pixabay)

A retired nurse who can smell out Parkinson's is using her impressive abilities to help scientists create the first diagnostic test.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological condition, for which there currently is no cure.

Joy Milne from Perth lost her husband Les, a consultant anaesthetist, to the disease in 2015.

However, over a decade before he was diagnosed she began to smell a strange musky odour around him and that's when she got to know of her gift.

Although Joy initially didn't connect the smell to the disease, but when she attended a Parkinson’s meeting with her husband she realised that her husband and others in the room smelt the same.

Joy told the Scotsman, "I smelled it ten to 12 years before Les was diagnosed. As the Parkinson’s got worse, the smell got worse.

"It became just part of him, but I with my sensitive sense of smell, I could smell it all the time and it became quite uncomfortable really, but I had the sense not to nag too much."

Joy describes Parkinson’s smell to be very thick and musky.

She added, "I’m in a tiny, tiny branch of the population, somewhere between a dog and a human."

During a question and answer session at a Parkinson’s UK event, Joy claimed to be able to smell the disease, which caught the attention of researcher Dr Tilo Kunath at the ­University of Edinburgh and he investigated further.

Tilo’s initial findings regarding Joy's abilities later led to Parkinson’s UK funding further research into whether the disease had its own aroma.

The condition causes tremors, slowness of movement and rigidity.

Dr Arthur Roach, director of research at Parkinson’s UK, said in the same report, "It’s very early days in the research, but if it’s proved there is a unique odour associated with Parkinson’s, particularly early on in the condition, it could have a huge impact."

Currently no drug has the potential to slow or stop Parkinson's but if this test is successful it will be possible to test such drugs that could prevent the disease.

 

Tags: neurological, disease, drugs, musky, joy milne, degenerative neurological condition, anaesthetist