Disease Scent Signatures Disclose What the Nose Knows

Press/Media: Blogs and social media


Scent is a powerful time portal, reviving long-forgotten memories in stark detail. The human brain begins to build a library of smells in infancy, which grows into adulthood. For people with hereditary hyperosmia—a rare, heightened ability to detect and discern scents—this smell repository can be vast and remarkably fine-tuned. Joy Milne, a retired nurse, patient advocate, researcher, and grandmother, discovered this superpower as a child.1 Milne’s grandmother—also a super sniffer—trained her to identify scent signatures, as her own mother had taught her. As a nurse, Milne acquired an extensive clinical scent library, recognizing patterns between disease symptoms and diagnoses. After her late husband’s Parkinson’s disease (PD) diagnosis, she realized that the musky smell he wore at the nape of his neck for over a decade was an early warning sign and that she could detect it in other PD patients. Based on these earlier studies, she teamed up with Drupad Trivedi, a biomedical researcher and lecturer in analytical and measurement science at the University of Manchester to identify different scent signatures produced long before PD neuromotor symptoms emerge.

Period12 Jun 2023

Media coverage


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Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute of Biotechnology
  • Biotechnology