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Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Respite for cheesy trainers
Shoes/BBC
The smell is caused by bacteria
British scientists have developed a deodorising shoebox that promises to make smelly trainers a thing of the past.

The invention is designed to suffocate the bacteria responsible for noxious odours with a waft of nitric oxide gas.

The device has been patented by a team from St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, who tested it on 20 pairs of pongy shoes.

Human skin produces the gas naturally, but not enough to stop footwear becoming sweaty and smelly.

Professor Nigel Benjamin, a clinical pharmacologist at the hospital, and student Robin Gilbert developed the shoebox-sized deodoriser.

It relies on generating nitric oxide when two chemicals are mixed together.

Trainer tamers

"The idea is that you'd put the trainers in the box and activate it every few weeks," Professor Benjamin told New Scientist magazine.

"The treatment leaves it with a nice, disinfectant-like smell, rather than the smell of rotting feet."

To test the idea, the inventors advertised for rancid trainers.

They collected 20 pairs, which were used to identify the main bacterial culprits and find out how to eradicate them.

With the help of an "electronic nose", they showed that the box zapped the smelliest microbes.

Commercial business partners are now being sought by the researchers.

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