Anyone who has owned or is the current owner of a dog can more than tout the sheer blessing that is a canine companion. However, dogs in the last few centuries have become more than companions—they are service animals, they go to war, and according to this most recent study they can sniff out cancer individuals.
This past Monday, a study was presented in Orlando at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which involved four different beagle dogs, all at two years old. The beagles were presented with human blood samples in the study—some contained lung cancer cells, some did not.
Of the four beagles used, one was not very interested in participating—named Snuggles. However, the other three were more interested in the study, identifying the blood sample presented to them with astonishing accuracy. For the samples containing lung cancer cells, the canines identified them with a 96.7 percent accuracy, as well as a 97.5 percent accuracy with the normal blood samples.
The experiment itself was conducted by researchers at BioScentDX, a pharmaceutical lab based out of Florida. For the study, the beagles were trained to be able to differentiate the difference between both normal blood samples, and those from a lung cancer patient. According to a statement from the researchers, the beagles were the perfect choice for the study, as canines can smell at 10,000 times that of most human’s, and with even more accuracy.
The leader of the study, Heather Junqueira, stated:
“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.”
Those two paths include the actual detection of cancer by scent, and the other by determining the compounds that make the smell detectable to begin with, which could then lead to more accurate cancer screening tests.