Former Nurse Can Correctly Diagnose Parkinson’s Disease by Smell

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Joy Milne, a former nurse who lives in Scotland has helped scientists and led the science world to a whole new level of diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease. The 65-year old British woman can detect Parkinson’s disease with her extraordinary sense of smell. Parkinson’s disease is mainly a neurological condition that alters the rate at which dopamine is produced in the substantia nigra (A part of the brain that controls movement). 

Unfortunately, as of now, there is no cure or early diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease. Most people don’t realized they have Parkinson’s until it’s entered it’s later stages and the symptoms are more obvious. Joy Milne’s detection of this disease through smell started when she noticed that her husband’s odor changed from the sweet smelling scent it used to be to a musky odor. She thought it was probably because her husband has been careless about his hygiene, so she decided to ignore the smell, but it kept getting stronger as time went on. Eventually her husband started behaving strangely and was having trouble sleeping. Mrs. Milne was worried that her husband might have a brain tumor and they decided to go for a test, where he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

A Parkinson’s support group was recommended to the Milne’s and when Joy arrived, she realized that all the people in the room with Parkinson’s had the same smell as her husband. When they got home, she told her husband about her wild discovery. Joy Milne had first noticed the new smell on her husband 10 years ago before he had any noticeable symptoms and before either of them were worried or aware of the horrible disease that would befall him. Les Milne passed away at the age of 65, but his life was not in vain, because if it wasn’t for him, his wife would have never learned of her amazing disease sniffing ability.

When this incredible story was made known to researchers and scientists, they couldn’t believe it. I mean who could believe that someone can actually detect and identify diseases through smell. Joy Milne’s sense of smell for this disease was tested so they could identify the molecules or substances she perceives from the body of Parkinson’s patients. T-shirts were given out to two groups of people; those with Parkinson’s disease and those without Parkinson’s disease. When the T-shirts were returned, she gave an accurate result about those with mild symptoms, those with severe symptoms and also those without the disease. It was discovered that Joy had identified a man without the disease as a carrier and few months later, the result was actually true. The sebum of those with Parkinson’s disease was collected to analyze the molecules present. Scientists are using Joy Milne’s sense of smell to determine biomarkers that can help diagnose the disease early and also bring about treatment that can slow the progress of the disease.


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