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Body Odor Research Opens Door for Next-gen Deodorants

July 9, 2018 | Contact Author | By: Brooke Schleehauf
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Woman showing armpit with pink lipstick

Keywords: eLife | research | deodorant | next generation deodorant | what causes body odor | sweat | BO deodorant | body odor | Staphylococcus | transport protein | sweat | Gavin Thomas | target body odor | deodorant formula | sweat odor | BO cause | BO transport protein

Abstract: Recent research published in eLife describes how body odor is created, and presents an opportunity for formulators to create deodorants that can inhibit armpit malodor altogether.

Catch a whiff of deodorant innovation—new deodorants able to inhibit body odor (BO) altogether are possible, following research from the Universities of York and Oxford that identified part of the molecular process that creates BO, as published in eLife.

Though it was already known the armpit microbiome contributes to the production of BO, University of York researchers found that Staphylococcus bacteria, in particular, create its most pungent component. What remained unknown, however, was how these bacteria converted the odorless compounds of a sweaty armpit into volatile, and smelly, chemicals.

Researchers discovered the conversion occurs via a transport protein, which allows bacteria to recognize and absorb odorless compounds secreted in sweat. The scientists then created a blueprint of the protein's molecular structure to learn how it works and how to target it.

These findings create an opportunity for formulators to create a new generation of deodorants that specifically target and inhibit this protein, and cut BO off at its source.

"Modern deodorants work by inhibiting or killing many of the bacteria present [in] our underarms in order to prevent BO. This study—along with our previous research revealing that only a small number of the bacteria in our armpits are actually responsible for bad smells—could result in the development of more targeted products that aim to inhibit the transport protein and block the production of BO," stated Gavin Thomas, Ph.D., co-author, in a press release.

The article and associated figures can be found at elifesciences.org.