Biotechnology

Detecting Body Odors

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Science  27 Jul 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5530, pp. 577
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5530.577c

Apart from perfumers and oenophiles, humans generally exhibit a undiscriminating sense of smell, unlike many other mammals. Nevertheless, the possibility that human odors may influence behavior does exist, and volatile components in urine underlie the known preference of mice to mate with individuals possessing a different set of major histocompatability complex (MHC) antigens.

Montag et al. have developed an artificial nose consisting of two volatile-detecting modules: A quartz microbalance measures mass, and a semiconducting metal oxide-based gas sensor monitors reaction with oxygen. This so-called electronic nose (e-nose) was able to categorize urine samples from mice in a MHC-dependent manner. It also could discriminate human serum samples collected from subjects with a range of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) haplotypes. — GJC

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 10.1073/pnas.161266398.

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