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Dogs can accurately detect cancer in blood samples

Dogs have a sense of smell that is 10,000 times more powerful than that of humans, which means they are aware of many scents that we cannot detect. A new study has revealed that dogs can use their remarkable sense of smell to identify cancer in blood samples with an accuracy rate of nearly 97 percent.

“Although there is currently no cure for cancer, early detection offers the best hope of survival,” said Heather Junqueira, who is the lead researcher at BioScentDx. “A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could potentially save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated.”

The research team trained four beagles to distinguish between blood samples collected from patients with malignant lung cancer and normal blood samples. While one of the dogs was uncooperative, the other three beagles correctly identified the samples from cancer patients almost 97 percent of the time. These dogs also identified the healthy samples 97.5 percent of the time.

“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 Junqueira. “One is using canine scent detection as a screening method for cancers, and the other would be to determine the biologic compounds the dogs detect and then design cancer-screening tests based on those compounds.”

BioScentDx has recently launched a breast cancer study in which participants donate samples of their breath for screening by cancer-sniffing dogs. The researchers also hope to isolate the chemical components that the dogs are detecting when they pick up on the presence of cancer.

The research was presented at the American Physiological Society’s annual meeting Experimental Biology 2019.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Image Credit: BioScentDx

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