Why a dog really is man’s best friend

By By harnessing a canine’s extremely powerful sense of smell, scientists are using dogs to sniff a person’s saliva to identify if they have cancer. And they are so spot on they can even identify which cancer a person has. 

With their sense of smell up to 100,000 times better than humans, dogs are being employed in labs in Israel to smell saliva as it is believed cancerous cells emit an odour which dogs can identify, even before diagnosis by a doctor.

The start-up company behind the test, Prognose 220 Mil, allows people to send a spit sample via courier for the cost of $150 (399 Shekel), the Daily Mail UK reported. 

If their dogs sit still after assessing the sample, it suggests the disease is present. The 'instant' result is then sent electronically to the customer, specifying which type of cancer – if any – of which they have early signs.

With a better survival rate from cancer greatly dependent on as early a detection as possible, this canine medical breakthrough could be at the forefront of saving lives.

According to the Daily Mail article, in the UK there is currently a charity using dogs to try and detect cancer by smelling people's breath, but the Israeli pioneering idea of mail-order saliva testing is new.

In 2015, Medical Detection Dogs and Milton Keynes Hospital NHS trust conducted a landmark trial which included nine animals: six labradors, two spaniels and a Hungarian vizsla, the Daily Mail reported.

Their cancer detection rate had an accuracy of 93 per cent – far higher than current testing methods, researchers said.

If medical researchers are able to harness the power of a dog’s sense of smell in the realm of biotech, it is to be hoped that great headway will be made in the early identification of the disease.

Perhaps this is just one significant reason why a dog has been considered a person’s best friend since time immemorial.

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