Monday, August 12, 2013

Ovarian cancer sniffed out by dogs

Posted by Neill Abayon

Researchers are looking to create a breakthrough method of detecting ovarian cancer - by using dogs to sniff out the disease.

A group of researchers collaborated to investigate using canine olfaction and chemical and nanotechnology analysis as a means of detecting early-stage ovarian cancer.

The collaboration was between the Working Dog Center of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, the physics and astronomy department of Penn's School of Arts and Science, Penn's Gynecologic Oncology division and the Monell Chemical Senses Center.

Physicians currently use the senses of light, sound and touch to help diagnose ovarian cancer in women. But the researchers say the sense of smell will now play an important part.

Volatile organic compounds (VOC) - or odorants, are altered in the early stages of ovarian cancer. The researchers say that previous studies have shown that trained detection dogs, alongside specific electronic devices, are able to detect minute quantities of odorants.

Patients from Penn Medicine, with and without ovarian cancer, have donated tissue and blood samples to the Working Dog Center to assist in their research.

The project is already under way, with three dogs being trained to sniff out the odorants that indicate a woman has ovarian cancer:

    A springer spaniel called McBaine
    A labrador retriever called called Ohlin, and
    Tsunami - a German shepherd.

More here.

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