Czech scientists are collaborating on an international project, SMELLODI, which aims to digitise human scent. At the moment it is not yet possible to record a smell, send it halfway around the world and then regenerate it, but SMELLODI is trying to make that possible. And it could have real and beneficial applications in medicine.
The power of smell for diagnosing disease has only started to be recognised in recent years.
The incredible case of Joy Milne, a Scottish woman with a heightened sense of smell who, using only her nose, is able to detect Parkinson’s disease in people many years before they develop symptoms, helped scientists at the University of Manchester to develop a simple diagnostic test for the disease – something which hadn’t existed up until then. Smell has also been used to diagnose cancer and even Covid, with dogs trained to sniff out the diseases in people early, before other kinds of diagnostic tests are able to pick anything up.
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Authors: Anna Fodor, zuzana machálková