In a new study, researchers found that dogs can accurately sniff out cancer in blood samples.
This finding may help develop new methods for effective cancer diagnosis.
The research was conducted by a group from BioScentDx.
For people with cancer, early diagnosis and treatment are very important for better health outcome.
A highly sensitive test for diagnosing cancer could help save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated.
Previous research has shown that dogs have smell receptors 10,000 times more accurate than humans’, making them highly sensitive to odors humans can’t perceive.
In the study, the team found that dogs can use their highly evolved sense of smell to pick out blood samples from people with cancer. The accuracy is almost 97%.
In the research, they used a form of clicker training to teach four beagles to distinguish between normal blood serum and samples from patients with malignant lung cancer.
The results showed that three dogs correctly identified lung cancer samples 96.7% of the time and normal samples 97.5% of the time. One dog was unmotivated to perform the task.
The team suggests their finding could further research along two paths to develop better cancer-detection tools.
One is using canine scent detection as a screening method for cancers, and the other will determine the biologic compounds the dogs detect and then design cancer-screening tests based on those compounds.
The researchers hope to use canine scent detection to develop a non-invasive cancer-screening method and detection tools for other life-threatening diseases.
They already launched a breast cancer study in 2018 November, in which participants donate samples of their breath for screening by trained cancer-sniffing dogs.
Next, they will separate the samples into their chemical components and present these to the dogs. They aim to isolate the substances that cause the odor that the dogs can detect.
The lead author of the study is Heather Junqueira, who is a lead researcher at BioScentDx and performed the study.
The study is presented at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting.
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