Posted on Apr 09, 2019, 1 p.m.
Beagles have been trained to sniff out cancer, and they are doing it with up to 97% accuracy up to 18 months before medical tests; researchers hope to be able to identify the compounds the dogs are smelling to design new cancer screening tests.
BioScentDx researchers have trained three dogs to detect lung cancer in blood samples. “A highly sensitive test could save thousands of lives, early detection offers the best hope of survival” explains Heather Junqueira.
Thus far the beagles have correctly identified the cancer with 96.7% accuracy, and cancer free samples 97.7% of the time. After lung cancer the dogs were then trained to sniff out breast cancer; bowel and prostate cancers will follow in their training next.
Smell receptors in dogs are about 10,000 times more accurate than humans which makes them highly sensitive to odors we can’t possibly perceive. Using a form a clicker training the dogs were trained to distinguish between normal blood serum and samples with malignant lung cancer.
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.
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