April 11 (UPI) -- Researchers may have figured a way to use the keen sense of smell of dogs to detect deadly cancers, a new study says.
Three beagles were able to correctly detect lung cancer nearly 97 percent of the time, according to a study presented this week at the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting.
"Although there is currently no cure for cancer, early detection offers the best hope of survival," Heather Junqueira, lead researcher at BioScentDx and study author, said in a news release. "A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could potentially save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated."
The researchers trained beagles to tell the difference between normal blood serum and malignant lung cancer tissue. The dogs identified the normal tissue 97.5 percent of the time and identified the cancerous tissue 96.7 percent of the time.
The smell receptors of all dogs are 10,000 times more sensitive than in humans. The researchers now hope to use this sense to develop inexpensive, noninvasive ways of cancer detection.
"This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools," Junqueira said. "One is using canine scent detection as a screening method for cancers, and the other would be to determine the biologic compounds the dogs detect and then design cancer-screening tests based on those compounds."
The company plans to use the dog-sniffing technique in a recently launched breast cancer study, it said in the news release.