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Wednesday, 16 December, 1998, 17:26 GMT
Putting pheromones on the map
Pheromones play a role in sexual attraction
A small Scottish village could become the centre of the human smells map if it succeeds in offering the world's first pheromone profiling service.

Kiotech International, one of the firms behind plans for a self-diagnosis kit which gauges illness by analysing human breath, expects to have developed the technology needed to map an individual's pheromones by the end of 1999.

Pheromones are odourless chemical messengers secreted by animals and humans and are picked up by the nose at a subconscious level.

They are mainly known for the role they play in sexual attraction, but much is unknown about what they do and how they work.

Each person has a very individual pattern of pheromones and scientists say people are more likely to be attracted to a person who secretes pheromones for which they have a particular sensitivity.

Uncharted waters

Dr George Dodd, a leading perfumier and a consultant for Kiotech, said: "We are entering uncharted waters in human biology. We may be able eventually to manipulate our smell image."

"So much work shows we are all using our sense of smell to feel comfortable with each other," he added.

But he said scientists were only at the beginning of research into the role of pheromones.

It is thought that pheromones may contain secret messages about a person's genetic fitness which may also account for their role in sexual attraction.

They may also be able to show a person's mood or whether they are anxious. Traditional Chinese medicine has long used smell as a diagnostic measure for stress.

Dr Dodd said research had shown that people whose marriages were breaking down often became aware of their partner's body odour.

It could be that the person's body odour changes due to the stress in the relationship or that their partner's perception of it changes, he said.

And a mother's pheromone levels may also be picked up by children, possibly in the womb, meaning that they can tell if she is happy or unhappy.

This could affect their neurological development, said Dr Dodd.

Crofter scientist

The new profiling service will operate out of his home in Melloncharles on the north west coast of Scotland.

People will be able to contact Dr Dodd, who calls himself "a crofter scientist", via email and the internet.

Dr George Dodd: 'we are entering uncharted waters'
They will then be asked to send bits of material impregnated with their pheromones to Kiotech for analysis.

The company, which will offer the service as a commercial operation, may eventually be able to create an individual perfume for the person to balance out their pheromones in any way they want.

This could affect the kind of people they attract.

"In 20 years' time, people could have their DNA profile posted on the internet which shows many of the diseases they are likely to get.

"There is likely to be a relationship between pheromones and DNA as both are unique to the individual," said Dr Dodd.

"At the moment we have no idea how the two interact."

See also:

16 Dec 98 | Health
The magic of sexual attraction
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