Fishy Smell May Help Cancer Patients

Sarah Wagner May 16, 2014 1
Fishy Smell May Help Cancer Patients
The cause of the smell. Photographer: Syd Stone '16

For the past two days, a smell Archer girls have compared to rotten fish has been emanating through Archer’s hallways. The smell is a result of an experiment hoping to provide a test for detecting leukemia.

Leila Taleghani ’14 has been working on her research project for the Honors Research class.  She explains to the Oracle that “the ultimate goal [of her project] would be to develop this into an efficient test that would within minutes detect the presence of leukemia with a blood sample.”

This will all be further explained in Taleghani’s presentation at the Archer STEM symposium on May 24.  The title of her project is “Colorimetric detection and quantification of HL60 leukemia cells using a water-soluble conjugated polyelectrolyte gold nanoparticle biosensor and HL60 aptamer.” 

Students across campus have been complaining about the smell. Gaby Sumpter ’16 says “I think this fish smell is terrible.” Grace Clarke ’16 says “Even my clothes smell.” Science Department Chair Shane Berning says the smell is “The absolute bane of my very existence.”

Despite what the smell seems to suggest, Berning assures students that “the chemical in question did not result from someone’s container of tilapia that was left in the chemistry room over the weekend.”  The chemical that was responsible was Trimethylamine, the same chemical responsible for the smell of fish itself.

Taleghani says, “I apologize for the awful smell and I certainly hope it goes away soon. I would hope it goes away within the next few days. Disposal of trimethylamine actually requires a chemical incinerator so we will be having a company come to take the chemical and dispose of it properly.”

Berning agrees saying, “We can only hope that as her project nears its end, and as time passes, the trimethylamine will effuse into the atmosphere and leave the Archer campus once and for all.”

Despite the horrible smell, Syd Stone ’16 says, “I think that most students would agree that it is a small price to pay for a possible contribution to science and medicine.”

One Comment »

  1. Athena Schlereth May 17, 2014 at 10:47 PM -

    I would also like to add that some of the students in the Honors Research in Science class who come into contact with the chemical will sometimes have their clothes smell of this same odor. I implore the Archer community to be kind and not shun us for the way we smell, however unpleasant.