When Joy Milne‘s husband started to smell bad, she thought something was wrong. Her concern was met with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, which is a neurological condition impacting hundreds of thousands around the world. The causes of Parkinson’s are still being investigated and diagnosing it is also a challenge; this is where Milne’s nose coms in. A team of researchers worked with Milne to develop a new at to test for Parkinson’s.
Now a team in the University of Manchester, working with Joy, has developed a simple skin-swab test which they claim is 95% accurate under laboratory conditions when it comes to telling whether people have Parkinson’s.
The researchers analysed sebum – the oily substance on skin – which was collected by using a cotton swab on patients’ backs, an area where it is less often washed away.
Using mass spectrometry, they compared 79 people with Parkinson’s with a healthy control group of 71 people.
The research found more than 4,000 unique compounds in the samples, of which 500 were different between people with Parkinson’s and the control group.