Entries in Odor (4)


3D-Printed Cast Lets Broken Arms Breathe, Minimizes Odor

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three-dimensional printing is making the medical rounds. Whether it’s a young boy’s new robot hand or an older woman’s customized jaw, the technology is catching on with doctors across the globe.

One of the latest projects is a new cast that looks like an attractive alternative to the bulky plaster and fiberglass casts used to treat broken bones. The new design comes from Jake Evill, a recent graduate of the School of Design at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.

Dubbed “Cortex,” the cast looks like a mash-up of a spider web, a piece of honeycomb and a fishnet stocking. The network of holes is one of the new cast’s greatest benefits, said Leon Benson, a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, as well as a practicing surgeon himself.

“It will at least allow patients to scratch themselves,” he told ABC News.

The new cast will also let air circulate and prevent the buildup of odor caused by traditional casts.

The network of holes also gives it another benefit: less weight. “A plaster cast might only weigh two or three pounds, but patients will say that it weighs a ton,” Benson said.

Although there is less material, Benson said he believes the cast will hold the patient’s arms firmly in place. “It looks strong enough to do the job,” he said.

Where Cortex still needs to be improved is in its manufacturing time. Designer Evill said the cast takes about three hours to produce, according to an article in Dezeen magazine. Plaster and fiberglass casts can be applied within minutes, but take a couple days to harden completely.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


‘Old People’s Odor’ Exists, But Not Unpleasant

Comstock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Elderly people do emit a characteristic odor, but it turns out they might actually smell better than younger people, according to a new study published online in PLoS ONE.

Researchers at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia found that people could distinguish among the body odors of different age groups.

They asked 41 people to evaluate odors collected from the armpits of study participants from three different age groups -- people between the ages of 20 and 30; between 45 and 55; and between 75 and 95.

The evaluators rated the odors from the younger groups as more unpleasant than the odors from the elderly participants, and they also found that the older people’s odors were less intense.  The evaluators could also determine that odors came from old people, but could not correctly attribute the odors from the other groups.

These findings, said co-author Johan Lundstrom, confirm the popular belief of an “old people smell.”

“We do have an old people odor, but when taken out of the popular context, it doesn’t smell as bad,” said Lundstrom.

The study also found that younger men smelled worse than younger women, but among the participants older than 75, men and women smelled pretty much the same.

It’s not clear exactly what’s behind the ability to discriminate between the age groups and the sexes, the authors wrote.

“An older study found that there is one chemical that varies with age, but we don’t know if that’s the chemical people are picking out,” Lundstrom said.

It’s also possible that the loss of testosterone, changes in the skin, changes in the sweat glands or a combination of these factors play a role in why the sexes don’t smell much different at older ages.

There may be an advantage to being able to discern the smell of old age among animals.

For example, the authors wrote, “older male insects have a higher reproductive success than their younger competitors,” and “reproductive success is a highly sought-after trait.”

The authors also believe it’s likely that had the evaluators been aware that the odors came from elderly people, they may have rated them as more unpleasant.

Future research, they continued, will focus on identifying the mechanism behind age-related body odor discrimination.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pill in the Works to Turn Sweat into Perfume

Paul Tearle/Thinkstock(AMSTERDAM, Netherlands) -- Those sweat stains could be the equivalent to a spritz of cologne if Lucy McRae's research pans out.

McRae, an artist based in the Netherlands, hopes to create Swallowable Parfum, a perfume that can be ingested through a capsule and emitted through perspiration.

The pill is still in the research phase with no scheduled release date as McRae works with a synthetic researcher, Sheref Mansy, to develop a prototype.

"My main aim is to provoke and make people think in a completely different way about how make-up can be [used] in the future," said McRae.

The 31-year-old was inspired to develop the line after watching a documentary on Ray Kurzweil, a computer engineer who won the National Medal of Technology and who has written numerous books about how machines will shape the future.

Rather than create a uniform scent, McRae envisions that each user's own scent would be amplified by the digestible perfume like a "base note."

George Preti, a scientist at the Monell Center which specializes in taste and smell, says pills that claim to change body odor similar to Swallowable Parfum are often not effective due to the body's digestion process.

"How much of what they do that will make it through the digestive process and [into] the blood remains to be seen," said Preti. "A lot of things will get taken apart in the acid in the stomach."

Since taking a daily dose of perfume isn't yet possible, McRae is staying with her scent of choice, Mona Di Orio, applied with a traditional spritz.

McRae's Swallowable Parfum is the latest in a trend of cosmetic companies attempting to reduce beauty regimens to pill form. In recent years companies such as Heliocare and Murad have released pills that claim to provide sun protection. However, these pills do not provide the same protection as traditional sunblock.

L'Oreal announced earlier this month that they're working on an "anti-grey" supplement that would keep hair from turning grey with age.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Does Parasite Cause Rats to Love Cats?

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(STANFORD, Calif.) -- While the smell of cat urine is normally a turn-off for rats, a group of Stanford University researchers found a certain group of rats was actually attracted to that same odor.

Cat urine is naturally a warning to rats to stay away from an area where their natural predators may be lurking. But study rats infected by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii ("toxo" for short) didn't show that fear and, instead, parts of their brains associated with sexual arousal were activated.

"Normally, we would expect toxoplasma to knock out the normal fear function in the brain, but in these rats the parasite also tapped into the sexual arousal pathway, which is strange," said Robert Sapolsky, a professor of neuroscience at Stanford University and a co-author of the study.

The belief is that the mind-manipulating parasite acts that way in order to ensure its reproduction. Toxo can only reproduce in the guts of cats, so if an infected rat wanders into cat territory, then there's a possibility the cat will eat the rat and toxo can multiply.

"The parasite does actually alter the brain of its host," said Patrick House, a doctoral student who is also a co-author of the study. "The fact that a parasite can get into an organism, target its brain, stay there without killing the host and alter the circuitry of the brain -- we've seen this is insects and fungi, but it's the first time we've seen it in a mammalian host."

Toxoplasma affects a rat's amygdala, the part of the brain associated with fear and anxiety.

"It atrophies some of the neurons along the pathway associated with fear," said Sapolsky. "What we don't understand is how it affects the fear response and then accesses the sexual arousal circuitry."

Toxo does infect humans. Humans contract the parasite by consuming contaminated food or water or by coming into contact with cat feces.

"It doesn't make people sick at all. It just infects them and the body holds it off, and it becomes a latent infection," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

But occasionally, Schaffner added, people who are immunocompromised can become ill. Pregnant women who are infected can also pass toxo along in the womb, which can cause serious complications, including still birth and neurological problems.

Previous research has linked to the parasite to schizophrenia and depression, but little is known about how it causes changes in human behavior. Some experts, including Schaffner, are skeptical that toxoplasmosis has a link to mental illness at all.

But while Sapolsky believes there could be an association between human behavior and infection with toxoplasma, that relationship needs additional study before making any firm conclusions.

His future research, he said, will once again focus on rats. He hopes to learn more about how this mysterious parasite affects rats and whether it plays tricks on the human mind, as well.

"One of the more interesting questions," he said, "is: How many cases are there of parasites manipulating human behavior?"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio