New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

Sniffing out Parkinson's disease

Date:
March 20, 2019
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that leads to progressive brain cell death and extensive loss of motor function. Despite much research being conducted on this disease, there are no definitive diagnostic tests currently available. Now, researchers report the identification of compounds that make up the signature odor of the disease with the help an individual who can detect Parkinson's through smell.
Share:
FULL STORY

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that leads to progressive brain cell death and extensive loss of motor function. Despite much research being conducted on this disease, there are no definitive diagnostic tests currently available. Now, researchers report the identification of compounds that make up the signature odor of the disease with the help an individual who can detect Parkinson's through smell. They report their findings in ACS Central Science.

Ancient physicians used scent as a diagnostic tool, and although olfactory tests are not common in modern medicine, diseases such as diabetes are often associated with a particular smell. However, there has been little evidence to tie scent to neurodegenerative disorders. Enter Joy Milne, a "Super Smeller" who can distinguish the unique odor of Parkinson's, which she can detect in subjects' sebum before clinical symptoms appear. This waxy, lipid-based biofluid moisturizes and protects the skin, particularly on the forehead and upper back. Excessive production of the substance is a known symptom of Parkinson's disease. So, Perdita Barran and colleagues wanted to determine what chemicals make up the scent in sebum that Milne is picking up on in Parkinson's patients so that they can eventually develop a diagnostic test for the disease.

The researchers collected sebum samples using gauze to swab the upper backs of more than 60 subjects, both with and without Parkinson's. The volatile scent compounds of sebum that could be contributing to a disease-associated smell were extracted and analyzed with mass spectrometry. The data revealed the presence of hippuric acid, eicosane and octadecanal, which indicate the altered levels of neurotransmitters found in Parkinson's patients, along with several other biomarkers for the disease. Milne confirmed the signature musk of Parkinson's when presented with laboratory-prepared samples containing these compounds in a controlled olfactory environment. While the researchers acknowledge the limited scope of this study, they say it opens the door to the development of a non-invasive screening test for Parkinson's, potentially leading to earlier detection.


Story Source:

Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Drupad K. Trivedi, Eleanor Sinclair, Yun Xu, Depanjan Sarkar, Caitlin Walton-Doyle, Camilla Liscio, Phine Banks, Joy Milne, Monty Silverdale, Tilo Kunath, Royston Goodacre, Perdita Barran. Discovery of Volatile Biomarkers of Parkinson’s Disease from Sebum. ACS Central Science, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.8b00879

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Sniffing out Parkinson's disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190320102125.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2019, March 20). Sniffing out Parkinson's disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 24, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190320102125.htm
American Chemical Society. "Sniffing out Parkinson's disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190320102125.htm (accessed May 24, 2024).

Explore More

from ScienceDaily

RELATED STORIES