According to a study presented this week at the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting, researchers may have figured a way to use the keen sense of smell of dogs to detect deadly cancers, a new study says. Heather Junqueira, lead researcher at BioScentDx, a pharmaceutical lab in Florida is the author of the study. The experiment, conducted by researchers BioScentDx, trained the beagles to differentiate between blood samples from lung cancer patients and normal blood samples.Smell receptors of all dogs are 10,000 times more sensitive than in humans.
Researchers trained beagles to differentiate between malignant lung cancer tissue and normal blood serum. One of the dogs, named Snuggles, didn’t perform, but the other three were able to correctly identify blood samples with lung cancer 96.7 percent of the time as well as normal blood samples 97.5 percent of the time.
The dogs identified cancerous tissue 96.7% of the time. They identified normal tissue 97.5% of the time. Three beagles detected lung cancer nearly 97% of the time,
“Although there is currently no cure for cancer, early detection offers the best hope of survival, a highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could potentially save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated.” -Heather Junqueira, study author
The researchers now hope to use this sense to develop inexpensive, noninvasive ways of cancer detection.
Junqueira says, “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.”
The company plans to use the dog-sniffing technique in a recently launched breast cancer study, it says in a news release.