Researchers have identified the source of our stench. The same team, which once identified a few bacteria that affect human odors, is now taking a step forward by identifying the enzymes that play a role in these organisms. A cysteine mercaptan lyase (C-T lyase), found in bacteria such as Staphylococcus hominis, produces truly odorous molecules.
Dr. Michelle Rudden, a researcher at York University, said at a press conference: “this is a key development in understanding how body odor works, and it will help develop targeted inhibitors to stop body odor at source without damaging armpit microbiota.”
Rudden is co-author of a paper on the enzyme published in scientific reports on Monday. It is reported that the researchers cooperated with Unilever, a personal care giant, in the study, in which Unilever may use this new perspective to develop new deodorant products.
Perhaps the most interesting finding of this study is how these odorous enzymes were before we became humans. Our primate ancestors had this ability before modern human evolution, and may have played a key role in social communication; we know that primates use smell to convey a message, such as “back off.”.
“this study is really eye opening,” said Dr. Gordon James, co-author of Unilever. “It’s interesting to find that a key enzyme for odor formation exists only in a small number of axillary bacteria and evolved there tens of millions of years ago.”