Diet does not prevent 'odorprint' ID

Oct. 31, 2008 at 1:30 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Diet may influence odor profiles but does not prevent identification of genetically determined odortypes, U.S. researchers say.

In animal studies, scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia found changing diet ingredients did not obscure detection of underlying odortypes.

"These findings indicate that biologically-based odorprints, like fingerprints, could be a reliable way to identify individuals," study lead author Jae Kwak said in a statement.

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

Senior study author Gary Beauchamp explains Monell scientists are studying whether body odors provide a consistent "odorprint" -- similar to a fingerprint or DNA sample.

While the type of food eaten does influence an individual's body odor -- for example eating garlic can affect body odor -- the mouse study indicated that although odor profiles of individual mice were strongly influenced by dietary changes the genetically-determined odortypes persisted.

The study, published online in the journal PLoS ONE, used chemical analyses of urine as well as "sensor" mice trained to use their sense of smell to choose between pairs of test mice that differed in genes, diet or both to identify odortypes.

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