Thor and Nykios are two very special Belgian shepherds (malinois) from Limoges, France. They are the starring participants in the KDog project, created by Isabelle Fromentin, a nurse from the Curie Institute in Paris, which trains dogs to recognise scents secreted by cancerous tumours.
Isabelle Fromentin – Source : AFP TV
The canine sense of smell is much more powerful than that of man, and allows them to recognise scents that are completely undectable to humans.
Source : @TheDogist
One hundred and thirty women volunteered for the project, which involved of a series of tests conducted over a six month period between August 2016 and February 2017.
Source : KDog
These tests involved volunteers providing the laboratory with a sample of their sweat collected on a wipe, that the dogs then sniff. Similarly to police sniffer dogs that detect drugs, the way that the Belgian shepherds react to the wipe determines if there are any odours secreted by cancerous cells present. Incredibly, in the first round of testing the dogs proved to be 100% accurate.
These extremely promising results have opened the door to fully fledged clinical trials. The next stage of testing would include four different breeds of dog, would take place over three years (between 2018 and 2021), and would include a sample of 1000 women. The Curie institute explains:
It's a question of taking a larger sample size into account to ensure the reliabilty of the KDog project […] We also need to demonstrate that the procedure works regardless of the breed of dog and regardless of their owner.
Source : AFP TV
There are several existing techniques that diagnose breast cancer, notably mammograms. However, there are many people, that for various reasons, don't have access to these tests. The new KDog method therefore has several advantages. It is cheap, reliable, but also allows breast cancer to be detected in its very early stages, which then leads to a higher success rate in treating and defeating the illness.
Watch the video below to find out more about the project (in French):
To stay up to date with the KDog project, you can visit their offical website here, or their Facebook page here. You can also make a donation to the Curie Institute here to help them continue their amazing work in the fight against cancer.
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