Several researches suggest that it is possible to detect illnesses through an individual’s smell.
In fact, some animals such as dogs have been said to tell sick people from healthy ones through scent.
Existing biochemical "nose" machines known as e-noses can detect some diseases and scientists hope that dogs can help to further create more sensitive and applicable machines for more diseases.
Dogs are used by law enforcers to track scents or guide in search-and-rescue missions.
Trained dogs have helped detect cancer correctly. A dog called Lucy has learned to sniff out bladder, kidney and prostate cancer. Due to her unique olfactory abilities, the dog has been used in a study. She has been able to detect cancer correctly more than 95% of the time, CNN reported.
Claire Guest the CEO of Medical Detection Dogs is grateful to her dog Daisy for helping her find a lump in one of her breasts which turned out to be cancerous.
"She kept staring at me and lunging into my chest. It led me to find a lump," Guest was quoted in the CNN article. According to her doctors, the tumor was deep. Claire observed that were it not for Daisy, her “prognosis would have been very poor." Moreover, early detection meant faster response and better results.
Along way to go
Although it is already established that dogs can offer support in the medical research area, not much has been done to commercialize the idea, according to Dr. Sheryl Gabram, Emory University surgeon.
After publishing a study in 2012, showing that a machine built on the dog’s olfactory capabilities could reliably detect the smell of breast cancer from patients' breath samples, Dr. Gabram and her team sought for money for more studies. They failed to get any support.
"It would need a lot of years of study and a lot of development," she said in an article. "It's still far from that. People just thought it was too massive to embark on." It's too bad, too, she said, because "I think it's an area of research that's still promising."