Parkinsons Super Smeller

Impact: Health and wellbeing, Awareness and understanding


The NoseToDiagnose team has shown it is possible to identify Parkinson’s disease based on compounds found on the surface of skin. The findings offer hope that a pioneering new test could be developed to diagnose the degenerative condition through a simple painless skin swab. The work began following the observation of Joy Milne, a retired nurse, whose husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 45. Joy has an incredible ability of using her sense of smell to distinguish Parkinson’s in individuals by detecting a distinctive “musky” odour, even before symptoms emerge in those affected. With high resolution mass spectrometry, the team were able to profile the complex chemical signature in sebum of people with Parkinson’s and show subtle but fundamental changes as the condition progresses. These promising results could lead to a definitive ‘world first’ test to diagnose Parkinson’s accurately, speedily and cost effectively. The skin swab could also provide an incredibly important new tool in clinical trials, by helping researchers measure whether new, experimental treatments are able to slow, stop or reverse the progression of Parkinson’s. Working with the University of Manchester Innovation Factory, the team has patents filed for their diagnostic techniques and have created a spin-out company Sebomix Ltd. to commercialise the new tests.
Impact date2013
Category of impactHealth and wellbeing, Awareness and understanding
Impact levelBenefit