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Dogs can sniff out cancer in blood with 97% accuracy

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Your canine friend can use its highly evolved sense of smell to pick out blood samples from people with cancer with almost 97 per cent accuracy, a finding that can lead to new low-cost and non-invasive screening approaches for the disease, finds a study.

Dogs have smell receptors 10,000 times more accurate than humans’, making them highly sensitive to odours we can not perceive.

“Although there is no cure for cancer, early detection offers the best hope,” said lead researcher Heather Junqueira, at BioScentDx, a US-based healthcare company. “A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated,” he said.

For the study, the team used a form of clicker training to teach four beagles to distinguish between normal blood serum and samples from patients with malignant lung cancer.
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Although one beagle — aptly named Snuggles — was unmotivated to perform, the other three correctly identified lung cancer samples 96.7 per cent times and normal samples 97.5 per cent times.

“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,” said Junqueira.

“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,” he said.

The results will be presented at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting in Florida. The team plans to use canine scent detection to develop a non-invasive way of screening for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

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Rare genetic brain disease reported, ‘Myoclonus-Dystonia’

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Bangalore: A rare genetic brain disease causing a movement disorder has been reported from Mumbai where a 21-year-old patient has been diagnosed with ‘Myoclonus-Dystonia’ with facial, neck and hand shaking and jerking due to rare genetic disorder called ADCY5-related dyskinesia.

This is a rare disease with less than 400 cases reported all over the world. The disorder is known to cause abnormal involuntary tremors in the body and is usually seen in children, but this is the first time it has been reported in an Indian adult patient.

He suffered from the condition since he was 13, but these jerks were initially mild. This progressed to moderate severity over the last few years. “We were able to manage the trembling till the time they were mild. With time, the intensity increased and so did the frequency which hampered daily activities and even any work that needed concentration”, told the parents of the 21 year old.

Dr VL Ramprasad, COO, MedGenome Labs that performed the genetic testing said, “ADCY5 mutation causes abnormal involuntary movements affecting the neck, arms and face. This mutation can also lead to episodic worsening triggered by anxiety, stress or inactivity -or characteristically periods before or after sleep. We have now published this case in MDCP (Movement Disorders Clinical Practice), which is a well-known journal.”

The doctor informed that when the patient came to them he would get these movements in spells intermittently in the early years. His whole body was shaking when he was anxious or even concentrating on an activity. After initial tests the doctors were convinced that he had a rare genetic disorder and tests confirmed ADCY5 gene mutation

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