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Parkinson’s Disease: The Nose Knows – (fill in the blanks)


Dr. Les Milne and his wife Joy


Smelling Parkinson’s disease before symptoms appear


A Scottish anesthesiologist, Les Milne, who worked long hours, began emitting a subtle musky 1) ___. His wife with a keen sense of smell, Joy Milne, assumed the smell was just sweat. But with the change in scent came a growing tiredness that was explained by a devastating diagnosis six years later, of Parkinson’s disease. When Joy Milne attended a meeting for the charity, Parkinson’s UK, attended by doctors and Parkinson’s patients, she noticed that the patients in the audience, shared her husband’s musky scent, and realized that the odor might be tied to the 2) ___. She mentioned this observation to a few scientists and they decided to investigate, on new skin odor tests to detect Parkinson’s disease (PD). As a result, Parkinson’s UK and the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology are investigating new 3) ___ odor tests to diagnose Parkinson’s disease earlier.


Researchers at the University of Edinburgh gave T-shirts to six people with Parkinson’s and six people without the disease. After the subjects wore the shirts, they were passed on to Joy Milne, who then had to determine by 4) ___ whether each wearer had Parkinson’s. Her diagnoses were eerily accurate – and have potentially groundbreaking implications for people living with 5) ___ disease (PD). Milne made correct assessments for 11 out of the 12 cases. In the one case she got “wrong,“ she insisted that a T-shirt worn by a member of the control group had the warning scent. Eight months after the study was conducted, she was proven right, bringing her accuracy rate up to one hundred. The supposedly healthy individual contacted one of the doctors and informed him that he had, in fact, just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.


“That really impressed us,“ said, Edinburgh University scientist Tilo Kunath, “We had to dig further into this phenomenon.“ Intrigued by Joy Milne’s abilities as a “super-smeller,“ scientists at the universities of Manchester, Edinburgh and London are undertaking a project to identify differences in the skin 6) ___ of people with Parkinson’s, study sponsor Parkinson’s UK announced this week. Scientists believe that people with early Parkinson’s, experience skin changes that produce a particular odor. If they find the molecular signature responsible for the smell, it may be possible to develop a diagnostic test for Parkinson’s as simple as swabbing a person’s forehead. As our understanding of it stands now, the disease is incredibly difficult to diagnose. Doctors still rely on an observational technique developed in the early 1800s. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, a degenerative disorder of the central 7) ___ system which causes shaking, slowness of movement and difficult walking as well as behavioral problems like dementia and depression.


Arthur Roach, the director of research at Parkinson’s UK, said in a BBC announcement this week, that in addition to having a “huge impact“ on diagnostic procedures, “The research would also make it a lot easier to identify people with the disease and to test drugs that may have the potential to slow, or even stop Parkinson’s, something no current 8) ___ can achieve.“ Source: The Washington Post, October 2015, by Yanan Wang 


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ANSWERS: 1) odor; 2) disease; 3) skin; 4) smell; 5) Parkinson’s; 6) chemicals; 7) nervous; 8) drug



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