Scientists identify ancient enzymes that make body odor so strong


Researchers have zeroed in on the source of our smell.



Close to a map: BO a specific enzyme can be detected.  York University / Unilever


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BO A specific enzyme can be detected. York University / Unilever

The same team identifying the bacteria responsible for the smell of the human body has now gone a step further and pinpointed the enzymes to be activated within these organisms. It is a cysteine-thiol lyase (CT lyase) enzyme within bacteria such as Staphylococcus hominis that produces real smelly molecules that have inspired an entire industry of deodorant to contain them.

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“This is an important advancement in understanding how body odor works, and will enable the development of targeted inhibitors that inhibit BO production at the source without disrupting the armpit microbiome,” University of York researcher Dr. Michelle Rauden said in a release.

Ruden is the co-author of a paper on enzymes published on Monday in Scientific Reports. Researchers also worked closely with scientists at personal care products giant Unilever, who could use new insights into the development of new deodorant products.

Perhaps the most interesting finding of research is that these stink-causing enzymes have been with humans, well … since we were humans. Researchers say that it was for our ancestors riding before the development of modern humans and could play an important role in social communication; Primates are known to use oders to send messages, such as “back off”.



© York University / Unilever

BO A specific enzyme can be detected.


“This research was a real eye opener,” Unilever co-author Dr. Gordon James said. “This suggests that a significant odor-forming enzyme is present only in a select few adjacent bacteria and evolved tens of millions of years ago.”


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