Olfactics and Diagnostics

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On the sense of smell, olfactory properties and uses in medical diagnostics

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  • June 12, 2016
  • 10:35 PM

Seeing Through the Skin

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

​Human skin emits light (albeit the glow is extremely weak) and a wide variety of small molecules that may be sometimes "sniffed" by dogs or even other humans. These chemicals tell a story about our health and wellness, things we eat and drink, touch and breathe. Mosquitoes use such emissions to assess our "attractiveness" from indicators such as Indoles (unpleasantly smelling but healthy "inner soil" biomarker) or carbon dioxide (amount of which correlates with the size of the person........ Read more »

Gao W, Emaminejad S, Nyein HY, Challa S, Chen K, Peck A, Fahad HM, Ota H, Shiraki H, Kiriya D.... (2016) Fully integrated wearable sensor arrays for multiplexed in situ perspiration analysis. Nature, 529(7587), 509-14. PMID: 26819044  

Yokota T, Zalar P, Kaltenbrunner M, Jinno H, Matsuhisa N, Kitanosako H, Tachibana Y, Yukita W, Koizumi M, & Someya T. (2016) Ultraflexible organic photonic skin. Science advances, 2(4). PMID: 27152354  

  • March 26, 2015
  • 12:38 AM

The Smell of Stress and Fear

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Can we recognize if people around us are stressed, anxious or fearful without observing their facial expressions, body language and actions or hearing their voice and messages? Can we understand if we are stressed ourselves without assessing our heart rate, blood pressure, noticing dry throat, sweating, drops or surges in energy? Yes, we can - by using our nose - as humans, too, recognize and transmit their emotions through chemical senses.When we are stressed or panic we become more sensit........ Read more »

Haegler, K., Zernecke, R., Kleemann, A., Albrecht, J., Pollatos, O., Brückmann, H., & Wiesmann, M. (2010) No fear no risk! Human risk behavior is affected by chemosensory anxiety signals. Neuropsychologia, 48(13), 3901-3908. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.09.019  

Prehn-Kristensen A, Wiesner C, Bergmann TO, Wolff S, Jansen O, Mehdorn HM, Ferstl R, & Pause BM. (2009) Induction of empathy by the smell of anxiety. PloS one, 4(6). PMID: 19551135  

  • September 7, 2013
  • 08:56 PM

Body Odor and Skin Bacteria

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Our bodies are rainforests of microbes feeding off the leftovers from our meals and contributing to a variety of body odors.  Human skin is inhabited and re-populated depending on health conditions, age, genetics, diet, the weather and climate zones, occupations, cosmetics, soaps, hygienic products and moisturizers. All these factors contribute to the variation in the types of microbes. Population of viruses, for example, can include a mixture of good ones - like bacteriophages fighting acn........ Read more »

Grice EA, & Segre JA. (2012) The human microbiome: our second genome. Annual review of genomics and human genetics, 151-70. PMID: 22703178  

  • June 28, 2013
  • 07:40 PM

I Know What You Ate This Summer

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Despite active foodstagramming and foodteresting, and eagerness to show pictures of meals and diet reports to friends on social media, we don't really want others to know everything we eat. But they might know anyway.Why worry about NSA, when Google, Facebook, Amazon and many others know what we might be eating. Cameras record our ways to groceries and restaurants, credit cards record our purchases, food chains know our weaknesses, clothes shops know how, as a result, our pant sizes change over ........ Read more »

Baranska A, Tigchelaar E, Smolinska A, Dallinga JW, Moonen EJ, Dekens JA, Wijmenga C, Zhernakova A, & van Schooten FJ. (2013) Profile of volatile organic compounds in exhaled breath changes as a result of gluten-free diet. Journal of breath research, 7(3), 37104. PMID: 23774130  

  • June 6, 2013
  • 01:30 PM

When it Smells Like Team Spirit

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Why do we connect and collaborate, deciding to "walk in the light of creative altruism" instead of the "darkness of destructive selfishness"? Is it because of subtle behavioral clues that make us "click" and consider the other person a part of the group? Or is it because it smells like team spirit? It very well might be. We (literally) smell love, victory, fear, along with chemicals that motivate us to cooperate. As was recently shown in double-blind placebo-controlled studies that quantitativel........ Read more »

  • May 1, 2013
  • 11:22 AM

Inhale and feel it with your heart

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

All you need is love. Or failing that chocolate.And not only because dark chocolate could lower the risk of heart disease, blood pressure and sugar levels. As Dr. Schieberle's team recently discovered that heart could sense and enjoy the sweet smell of chocolate too. When they put small odor-emitting molecules from chocolate on one side of a dish, cells actually moved towards the aroma.The heart, the lungs, the blood, the sperm and testis all have the abilities to recognize chemicals responsible........ Read more »

  • January 31, 2013
  • 11:33 AM

Odors and Infections

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Many illnesses are associated with distinct odors. Especially those caused by infectious or opportunistic microbes inside the body or on its surfaces.  Body odor of someone infected with C. difficile, for example, can appear "swampy", H. pylori  can create a range of foul odors, and pseudomonas infections can smell like grapes and bitter almond. Infections like C. difficile are usually linked to a general imbalance of the intestinal microbiota, often refer........ Read more »

  • November 29, 2012
  • 10:30 PM

Come out smelling like a rose

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

You are what you eat. And you smell like your food. Well, it's actually a bit more complicated - as we emit complex combinations of volatile chemicals produced from food by our own metabolic system as well as microbes that call us home. Same foods can be translated into a wide range of odors, depending on the individual. People exhibit a large variety of smells, much more diverse than animals or plants. Thanks to variations in our digestive enzymes, diets, supplements, medicines, perfumes, deter........ Read more »

  • January 10, 2012
  • 10:00 AM

Studying body odor: one step at a time

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Unpleasant body odors could be a sign of a disease. But even when the cause of the disease is known - an example is trimethylaminuria or TMAU - there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Elimination of choline and other essential nutrients from diet can be harmful and unhelpful.  Everyone has their own unique needs, with individual combinations of foods, activities and optimal environmental conditions.An earlier survey of about 100 body odor and halitosis sufferers indicated stress (34%), fo........ Read more »

Jan Havlicek, & Pavlina Lenochova. (2008) Environmental effects on human body odour. Chemical Signals in Vertebrates. DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-73945-8_19  

  • December 24, 2011
  • 11:25 PM

The smell of Christmas

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

How does Christmas smell like? Like cinnamon! So say studies by European scientists. And even though the smell of cinnamon is described as "pungent" (besides "warm", 'sweet", and "spicy"), it fires up our brains, evoking a joyful Christmas mood and making us more generous. Cinnamon is classified as a stimulant. Smelling and tasting cinnamon could enhance attention and virtual recognition memory, at least in comparison to smells of peppermint, jasmine or cherries. In addition to its many heal........ Read more »

  • December 6, 2011
  • 12:00 AM

The Road to Ammonia

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Why do I smell like Ammonia? This question, in thousands of variations, has been asked over and over again at every major question/answer site, especially teen, bodybuilding and athletic forums.The Internet provides plenty of opinions.Medical sites talk about diseases like chronic kidney failure, hepatic cirrhosis or H. pylori infection. Fitness sites recommend drinking more water, reevaluating protein sources and eating more carbohydrates. What are these diet-odor links? And what's the Science?........ Read more »

  • November 5, 2011
  • 05:00 PM

What's that fatty odor?

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Body odor is closely associated with diet. Deciphering the chemistry of human odor is not an easy task. Fortunately for some (and not so fortunately for others), the human nose can capture and discriminate many smell signatures. Could this discrimination be used to connect the dots between diet and body odor? MEBO Research has just started an anonymous study using the Aurametrix health analysis tool to find out.... Read more »

Dunkel M, Schmidt U, Struck S, Berger L, Gruening B, Hossbach J, Jaeger IS, Effmert U, Piechulla B, Eriksson R.... (2009) SuperScent--a database of flavors and scents. Nucleic acids research, 37(Database issue). PMID: 18931377  

  • February 2, 2011
  • 11:36 PM

Colonoscopy for everyone! ..or Gonna Buy Me A Dog

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

New research from Japan brings good news: dogs can be almost as accurate as a colonoscopy exam.In patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) and controls, the sensitivity of canine scent detection of breath samples compared with conventional diagnosis by colonoscopy was 0.91 and the specificity was 0.99. The sensitivity of canine scent detection of watery stool samples was 0.97 and the specificity was 0.99. The ........ Read more »

Sonoda H, Kohnoe S, Yamazato T, Satoh Y, Morizono G, Shikata K, Morita M, Watanabe A, Morita M, Kakeji Y.... (2011) Colorectal cancer screening with odour material by canine scent detection. Gut. PMID: 21282130  

  • August 22, 2010
  • 12:30 AM

Of blood and breath: metabolite-based diagnosis of ovarian cancer

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Physicians always knew that breath contains clues to diseases. Chemicals in breath often correlate with chemicals in saliva and blood - be it alcohol, anaesthetics or other metabolites (see, for example, this study by Dr Andreas Hengstenberg).As one of my interests is breath-based detection of ovarian cancer, I took note of the recent paper claiming 99% to 100% accuracy of detecting ovarian cancer by metabolites in blood. The authors used customized functional support vector machine-based machin........ Read more »

Zhou M, Guan W, Walker LD, Mezencev R, Benigno BB, Gray A, Fernández FM, & McDonald JF. (2010) Rapid Mass Spectrometric Metabolic Profiling of Blood Sera Detects Ovarian Cancer with High Accuracy. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers . PMID: 20699376  

  • August 11, 2010
  • 01:51 PM

On cancers and petroleum spills

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Researchers have known for years that smell of cancer patients is chemically different from healthy individuals. One more study featured in British Journal of Cancer brings us a bit closer to an inexpensive, easy-to-use, portable device for home diagnostics. Exhaled breath collected from 177 volunteers (patients with lung, colon, breast, and prostate cancers and healthy controls) was examined by gold nanoparticle nanosensor arrays (GNPs) and gas chromatography linked to the mass spectr........ Read more »

  • July 28, 2010
  • 08:18 PM

Hormonal Manipulation of Olfactory Cues, or How to Lose a Guy in 10 days

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Body odors are important cues used for social and sexual discrimination. As was shown many times, animals can easily smell age-, health- and genetics-related  differences.  Recent study of our large-eyed relatives, ring-tailed lemurs, demonstrate that drugs can alter body scents and change behavior. Researchers examined changes in endocrine and  semiochemical profiles of sexually mature female lemurs treated with hormonal contraceptives during their breeding season. Genetic diversity and kin........ Read more »

Jeremy Chase Crawford,Marylène Boulet and Christine M. Drea1. (2010) Smelling wrong: hormonal contraception in lemurs alters critical female odour cues. Proceedings B . info:/

  • July 15, 2010
  • 02:53 PM

Odor-prints: individual but genetic connections unclear

by Aurametrix team in Olfactics and Diagnostics

Odor is like fingerprints or facial features - it's unique.  Yet no single measurement could be easily applied to recognize an individual. GC/MS measurements can be used to analyze mixtures of acids, alcohols, aldehydes, hydrocarbons, esters, ketones, and nitrogenous molecules in human odor. Complex algorithms mining patterns help to pinpoint the signatures. But could these signatures be easily derived from genetic makeups?Recent article published in the Journal of Chemical Ecology looked at ........ Read more »

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