Whether from a hug or sitting next to them, perceiving body odour isn’t something you would readily want to be exposed to.

But what causes the odour when you sweat?

In a study published in the journal eLife, English scientists say they’ve identified a protein that enables bacteria in your armpits to take up odourless compounds in sweat and make it stink.

According to Gavin Thomas, co-author of the study, from the University of York’s department of biology, the underarm skin provides a hospitable home for bacteria.

“Through the secretions of various glands that open onto the skin or into hair follicles, this environment is nutrient-rich and hosts its own microbial community,” he said in a university news release.

“Modern deodorants work by inhibiting or killing many of those bacteria in order to prevent odour.

“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 body odour.”

With the new findings, it may be possible to develop new deodorants that target this protein, known as a ‘transport’ protein.

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