LOS ANGELES – A multi-national research team detailed how dogs can sniffout prostate cancer, potentially leading to a more accurate, non-invasiveearly diagnostic tool that could save lives, according to a study publishedWednesday.
Observations dating back to the mid-2000s have shown that dogs can accuratelysniff out early prostate and other cancers with impressive accuracy,
but researchers have not known exactly what elements of scent the dogs were
detecting and how they were processing the information.
In the study published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One, experimentsconducted by scientists from the PCF, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,Johns Hopkins University and United Kingdom-based Medical Detection Dogscombined three approaches — canine olfaction detection, artificialintelligence-assisted chemical analysis of urine samples, and microbialanalysis of the same samples of men who underwent a biopsy for suspectedprostate cancer.
A 4-year-old Labrador and a 7-year-old Vizsla were trained to detect the odorof prostate cancer in urine samples collected from patients with the disease,including Gleason 9 prostate cancer — the most lethal tumors that wouldbenefit the most from early detection.
Results showed the dogs correctly identified positive samples 71% of the time,and correctly ignored negative samples including those with other diseases 70%to 76% of the time. The dogs also correctly identified when 73% of blindedpatient samples did not have the disease, which compares favorably to the mostcommonly used prostate cancer test, the PSA blood test.
“This study showed that a dog’s nose could hold the key to an urgently needed,more accurate, and non-invasive method of early prostate cancer diagnosis,”said Claire Guest of Medical Detection Dogs, lead author of the study. “….This has enormous potential and in time the ability of the dogs’ nose could betranslated to an electronic device.”
The scientists say larger-scale studies are planned to develop a machineolfaction diagnostic tool — or a “robotic nose” that may ultimately be asmartphone app. MIT is developing a prototype.
“One of the main points of this work is that the dogs aren’t just detectingprostate cancer, they are detecting the most lethal prostate cancers – thosethat would benefit the most from early detection,” said Dr. Jonathan Simons,president and CEO of PCF and a study co-author.
PCF was founded in 1993 by financier Mike Milken and has raised more than $865million in support of research at 244 cancer centers and universities in 22countries.
Source: USA Fox 11 News
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