Scientists in the U.K. have discovered a woman who is able to diagnose people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease through her highly acute sense of smell.
Joy Milne, who lost her husband to Parkinson’s earlier this year, began to notice a musky smell after he was diagnosed. She later noticed the same smell while meeting other Parkinson’s sufferers at charity events.
After describing the smell to scientists, she was tested by smelling t-shirts of both Parkinson’s patients and people in a control group.
“We had them wear a t-shirt for a day then retrieved the t-shirts, bagged them and coded them,” Dr. Tilo Kunath of Edinburgh University told the BBC. “Her accuracy was 11 out of 12. We were quite impressed.”
However, the one person Milne misdiagnosed was found to be suffering from Parkinson’s eight months later.
“She was actually 12 out of 12 correct,” Kunath added.
Currently, scientists are hoping Milne’s talent can be used to develop a molecular signature which can someday be used to diagnose people with the disease.