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Researchers take lead from dogs to develop cancer detecting electronic nose

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December 20, 2010

Following on from research that found dogs could literally sniff out cancer, researchers h...

Following on from research that found dogs could literally sniff out cancer, researchers have created a cancer-detecting electronic nose (Image: liesvanrompaey via Flickr)

A 2008, researchers led by György Horvath MD, PhD, found that dogs could be trained to literally sniff out cancer. In their study, the researchers were able to train dogs to distinguish different types and grades of ovarian cancer, including borderline tumors. Horvath, together with professor Thomas Linblad from KTH Royal Institute of Technology and researcher Jose Chilo from Gävle University, has now created an electronic nose that can accomplish the same task.

Even when Horvath first confirmed that dogs could be trained to distinguish between ovarian cancer tissues and both normal healthy abdominal tissue and gynecological tissue, he realized that they couldn’t be used in clinical practice as they could be influenced in their work, which would compromise their accuracy. However, it was obvious to the researchers that the dog’s ability to detect specific odors related to malignancy could eventually lead to effective tools and methods for early cancer detection.

Horvath, from the Sahlgrenska Academy, and researchers from the University of Gävle and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, worked on detecting the cancer scent using an existing electronic nose at KTH. The basic structure was the same as existing electronic noses, but the researchers added several new components to increase its sensitivity.

“We’ve managed to detect and register the scent from a form of ovarian cancer, and the scent from a healthy Fallopian tube and healthy womb muscle,” says Horvath. “This technical confirmation of a cancer scent will have major practical implications – a sufficiently sensitive and specific method could save hundreds of lives a year in Sweden alone.”

“Our goal is to be able to screen blood samples from apparently healthy women and so detect ovarian cancer at an early stage when it can still be cured,” Horvath added.

The study detailing the different scents emitted by ovarian cancer cells and healthy tissue appears in the June 2010 edition of the journal Future Oncology.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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3 Comments

Interesting, but there was a similar story about training cancer sniffing dogs in Tallahassee about 16 years ago.

IggyDalrymple
21st December, 2010 @ 05:11 am PST

There'a SENSOR developed by a Romanian scientist - DR. RALUCA VAN STADEN (although therea are a lot of people who doesn't know that Romania is a country in Europe, nor that its people are quite brilliant : thay are the inventors of fountain pen, first self-launched/self-propeled airplane, first 2-3-4 stages rockets, individual jetpack and so on) which CAN DIAGNOSTIC CANCER WITHIN 6 MINUTES and it COSTS UNDER 1 EURO !! They will implement this sensor in a medical equipment that, in the near future will endow every single hospital !!

Blue
21st December, 2010 @ 12:17 pm PST

Trop cool comme debouche scientifique!

Francis Dumas
21st December, 2010 @ 03:48 pm PST
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