Researchers zero in on the source of our stink.
The same team that identified the handful of bacteria responsible for the odors of the human body has now gone a step further and indicated the enzyme that operates within those organisms. It is an enzyme of cysteine-thiol lyase (CT lyase) in bacteria such as Staphylococcus hominis that makes the actual smelly molecules, which have inspired an entire industry of deodorants they contain.
“This is a major breakthrough in understanding how body odor works, and will allow the development of inhibitors aimed at stopping the production of BO at the source without disrupting the coating microbiome,” she said. York University researcher Michelle Rudden, in a statement.
Rudden is co-author of a paper on the enzyme published Monday in Scientific Reports. The researchers worked in collaboration with scientists from the personal care products giant Unilever, who could use the new knowledge in developing new deodorant products.
Perhaps the most interesting finding of the research is that these stone-making enzymes have been with humans ever since, well … even before we were humans. Researchers say it was during the ride in our primate ancestors before the evolution of modern humans and may play a key role in society’s communication; primates are known to use odors to send a message, such as “back off.”;
“This research was truly open to the eye,” said Unilever co-author Gordon James. “It was fascinating to discover that a major odor-forming enzyme only exists in a select few thigh bacteria and evolved there tens of millions of years ago.”