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How the science of deer hunting can help patients with diabetes

DALLAS, March 17, 2014 Body odor is a deer hunter's worst enemy, an alert to animals that an ominous presence is lurking, but the science behind suppressing it to give hunters an edge oddly enough could help researchers develop a life-saving device for diabetes patients. Scientists today presented the latest advances that tie together these two seemingly unrelated fronts at the 247th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society.

The meeting, attended by thousands of scientists, features more than 10,000 reports on new advances in science and other topics. It is being held at the Dallas Convention Center and area hotels through Thursday.

"The scent of a single person is a complex mixture of hundreds of compounds given off by bacteria, which live in our bodies and on our skin," said Shamitha Dissanayake, who gave the presentation. Scent compounds also come from the human body itself when it breaks down molecules to make energy. The odors are emitted through the skin and breath.

These substances evaporate easily in the air and are called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In a lab at Mississippi State University (MSU), Dissanayake, a graduate student, and Todd Mlsna, Ph.D., the head of the lab, are figuring out the best way to collect and analyze VOCs from body and breath odor.

Their ultimate goal is to use VOC detection to diagnose and monitor disease, but their expertise led to a unique collaboration with Bronson Strickland, Ph.D., a colleague in the MSU wildlife ecology department. He was studying odor-reducing products geared toward deer hunters.

"The hunting community, the deer hunters in this case, are always looking for ways to beat the deer, so to speak, in terms of scent control," Strickland said. "A deer's sense of smell, like a dog's, can be anywhere from five hundred to a thousand times more acute than a human's."

Figuring out which

Contact: Michael Bernstein
214-853-8005 (Dallas Press Center, March 14-19)

Contact: Katie Cottingham, Ph.D.
214-853-8005 (Dallas Press Center, March 14-19)

American Chemical Society


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