Several different research projects are underway that share one similar goal: Find a way to recreate a dog's superb sense of smell in order to detect cancer in people.
Armed with over four times as many olfactory cells as humans, dogs are able to smell chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which tumors emit. As Bloomberg reports, VOCs have been detected in the breath of colon and lung cancer patients, and in the urine of men with prostate cancer. Researchers would like to develop an "electric nose" that replicates a dog's ability to sniff out cancer.
To that end, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine have been working with a German shepherd name Tsunami, who can successfully identify the smell of ovarian cancer in more than 90 percent of tissue samples that she sniffed. A separate study led by Gian Luigi Taverna, head of urology pathology at Istituto Clinico Humanitas in Italy, found that cancer-sniffing dogs identified prostate cancer in urine samples with 98 percent accuracy. Read more about the various findings at Bloomberg.