According to a new study, trained dogs can detect cancer with nearly 97 percent accuracy by sniffing blood samples.
The researchers plan to use canine scent detection to develop a non-invasive way of screening for cancer. The new study, by pharmaceutical firm BioScent Dx, adds to the evidence.
During the next phase the samples will be separated into chemical components to present to the dogs to isolate the substances that are causing the odors that the dogs are detecting, which will hopefully lead to new cancer screening tests. This latest discovery could lead to new methods to screen for cancer, change the way the deadly disease is treated, and save thousands of lives.
"This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools", said Heather Junqueira, the lead researcher at BioScnetDx who performed the experiment along with her colleagues.
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One of the beagles - named Snuggles - lacked the motivation to take part, according to the researchers.
They presented their findings at the American Society and Molecular Biology's 2019 Experimental Biology meeting held from April 6 to 9 in Orlando, Florida. They correctly identified the normal samples 97.5 per cent of the time.
BioScentDx, the lab where the study was performed, are now testing whether the dogs can smell cancer in the breath of breast cancer patients.
Studies have already shown they can pick up on "volatile organic compounds", which are released from the early stages of many cancers.
"This study paves the way for a larger scale research project created to explore the use of canine scent detection as a tool for detecting cancer biomarkers, ultimately leading to their identification", reads the yet-to-be-published study abstract. As such, our furry buds have been at the center of a number of studies utilizing their noses to detect or prevent a variety of life-threatening diseases and conditions, from predicting an impending epileptic seizure to successfully sniffing out Parkinson's disease.