WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A team of researchers was able to successfully show that beagles — chosen for their superior smelling sense — can identify lung cancer by scent with 97% accuracy.
- Currently, the beagles are in the process of identifying lung, breast and colorectal cancer using samples of patients’ breath, collected by the patient breathing into a face mask.
- The team’s goal is to develop an over-the-counter cancer screening device, like a pregnancy test kit, in terms of cost, simplicity and availability.
Dogs who successfully showed they can identify lung cancer by scent may prompt the development of a safe, effective, and inexpensive ways for screening.
The beagles — chosen for their excellent olfactory receptor genes – were able to differentiate between blood serum samples taken from patients with malignant lung cancer and healthy controls with 97% accuracy. And that’s just after only eight weeks of training.
“We’re using the dogs to sort through the layers of scent until we identify the tell-tale biomarkers,” says lead author Thomas Quinn, a professor at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. “There is still a great deal of work ahead, but we’re making good progress.”
Dr. Quinn and his team are now on the second iteration of the study. This time the beagles are in the process of identifying lung, breast and colorectal cancer using samples of patients’ breath, collected by the patient breathing into a face mask.
According to the team, the objective is to develop an over-the-counter screening product, like a pregnancy test kit, in terms of cost, simplicity and availability. What Dr. Quinn envisions is a device that can indicate a positive or negative finding when someone breathes into it.
Screening and imaging for lung cancer are not only costly but they are also not always reliable. Chest X-rays have a high false-negative rate, while CT scans with a computer-aided diagnosis have a high false-positive rate, Good News Network reports.
Dr. Quinn believes his research can lead to better screening and diagnosis solutions, potentially creating a change in cancer detection, according to the study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
“Right now it appears dogs have a better natural ability to screen for cancer than our most advanced technology,” says the doctor. “Once we figure out what they know and how, we may be able to catch up.”
Source: Good News Network