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How harnessing the power of dogs could help scientists sniff out cancer early

Humans have long harnessed the olfactory superiority of dogs for hunts and, more recently, to sniff out bombs, drugs and people during search-and-rescue missions. Now, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania are hoping to make early cancer detection the next frontier for canine-human collaboration. Inspired by previous research that found dogs could be trained to detect the scent of ovarian cancer in blood cells, the research team is working on a mechanical device – an ‘electronic nose system’ – to capture the same odour profile. Ultimately, the team hopes to develop a practical medical instrument to help doctors catch this deadly, elusive cancer earlier.

Video by Science Friday

Producer: Luke Groskin

29 April 2020

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