« Nervous System Practice Test Question | Main | Nov. 11th Class Agenda »

"Nice to Smell You": 'Odourprinting' could be used to identify people

smell_1111046c.jpg


Human beings could one day be identified by our smells, according to research that shows individual "odourprints" cannot be masked by diet.

Source: The Telegraph of the United Kingdom

Every person has a unique fragrance, similar to a fingerprint or DNA sample, which could be used to create a database of human scents, scientists said.

Eating powerful foods such as chili or garlic may change how we smell, but it does not disguise our underlying genetically-determined aroma, tests on mice have shown. Creatures who were given strong-smelling foods were still recognised by their peers.

The signature smells may have evolved to help in choosing mates and marking out territories.
Jae Kwak, lead author of the study at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, said that the research suggested that "odourprinting" could soon have a practical use.
"These findings indicate that biologically based odourprints, like fingerprints, could be a reliable way to identify individuals," he said.

"If this can be shown to be the case for humans, it opens the possibility that devices can be developed to detect individual odourprints in humans."

The tests used chemical analyses of urine as well as "sensor" mice trained to use their sense of smell to choose between pairs of test mice, who were fed different foods. The results were published in the online journal PLoS ONE.