This woman's nose could be the key to spotting Parkinson's early.

A woman's incredible nose might help scientists detect Parkinson's earlier than ever.

Joy Milne says she was living in Perth, Scotland, with her husband Les, when she noticed that he smelled different. Milne would later describe to the BBC as a kind of heavy, musky smell. The change was subtle, but it was there none-the-less. Milne says that at the time, she nagged Les a bit about missing showers, but didn't think much more of it.

Six years later, Les was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative disease that attacks brain cells, causing tremors and other mobility issues. In the United States, about one million Americans live with the disease. There are therapies that can help with the symptoms, but no cure.


Her husband's diagnosis would inspire Milne to join the charity Parkinson's UK, where she was able to meet other Parkinson's patients. But something weird happened. The smell was back. And it wasn't unique to Les. She could detect it on other Parkinson's patients as well.

Milne realized she could, in essence, smell Parkinson's disease.

This is amazing, because there is currently no definitive early test for Parkinson's. The only way is to watch for symptoms, and by the time that happens, the disease has already started to impact the brain.

Milne got in touch with scientists to let them know what she was experiencing. Now, Milne's amazing nose might lead to a brand new early-detection test for the disease.

Joy Milne in a laboratory taking a smell test. Image from BBC News/YouTube.

In the lab, she was able to identify Parkinson's patients in blind smell tests, even pegging on man who'd be diagnosed with the disease just a few months later. Using her nose, scientists have now identified 10 specific molecules that may be uniquely expressed in a Parkinson's patient's skin.

Milne's husband Les passed away in 2015, but researchers are hopeful that what they've learned from Milne's amazing nose could help other patients by catching the disease earlier than ever.

Science is powerful, but it sometimes takes paying attention to the small things in order to make big discoveries. As Perdita Barran, professor at Manchester University, told the Telegraph:

“It is very humbling as a mere measurement scientist to have this ability to help find some signature molecules to diagnose Parkinson's. It wouldn't have happened without Joy."

Heroes
terimakasih0/Pixabay

When Iowa Valley Junior-Senior High School principal Janet Behrens observed her students in the cafeteria, she was dismayed to see that they spent more time looking down at their phones than they did looking at and interacting with each other. So last year, she implemented a new policy that's having a big impact.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

popular
The Guardian / YouTube

Earlier this month, a beluga whale caught the world's attention by playing fetch with a rugby ball thrown by South African researchers off the waters of Norway.

The adorable video has been watched over 20 million times, promoting people across the globe to wonder how the whale became so comfortable around humans.

It's believed that the whale, known as Hvaldimir, was at some point, trained by the Russian military and was either released or escaped.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular