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Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: The armpit transplant

Bar of soap
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Instead of surgery, the “transplant” uses soap and other substances to clean out the armpit microbiome.

What is it? Armpit microbe transplant

Innovator:Dr. Armpit

What were they thinking? Even the best anti-perspirant is powerless against truly terrible body odor. But Chris Callewaert, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California, San Diego, who calls himself “Dr. Armpit,” is determined to suppress the stank. Using DNA analysis, he’s figured out what makes the axillary microbiome — the universe of tiny organisms that live in our armpits — either smelly or sweet. And now, he’s performing the first armpit transplants.

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Did it work? There’s no surgery involved, Popular Science reports. A person with stinky armpits simply uses antibacterial soap, alcohol, iodine, and other substances to obliterate his own microbiome. Then, scientists harvest sweet-smelling bacteria from a relative’s pits and make the transfer. In 16 of 18 cases, an eight-person panel has certified success. Dr. Armpit hasn’t put Old Spice out of business yet. But not even Big Antiperspirant, it seems, is immune to technological disruption.