Agnita Januskeviciute

8th July 2016

Power of the canine nose in cancer detection

Although advancements in medical technology have been paramount in cancer diagnostics and treatment so far, there are still no screening methods that are able to detect all types of cancer at its earliest stages.

Surprisingly, however, a dog’s nose can sometimes be more powerful than technology. Canines have the ability to smell cancerous cells quite early in the cancer cell development giving the patient best chance of survival.

Dogs nose

This raises the question, how can dogs detect cancerous cells in a human body? According to a recent article in Chromatography Today , although they do not smell the disease itself, the canine nose can detect the early signs. Cancer alters a cell’s metabolic rate and makes it more metabolically active than a normal cell, which can result in the production of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). A dog’s super sensitive nose, when sniffing samples of human skin, blood, sweat, urine, exhaled breath or faeces, is able to detect specimens containing VOC's in the range of parts per trillion. Most importantly, it is able to do this at early stages of cancerous development and VOC production, giving best prognosis and more time for the patient to get treatment they require. Dogs can even be trained to determine the specific types of cancer, such as colon, prostate and breast cancer. 

Similarly to dogs’ sensory ability, techniques such as thermal desorption gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (TDGC-MS) can also be used for VOC detection. The TDGC-MS process breaks down compounds into its various components and is able to identify the individual VOC’s, which vary according to the type of patient’s cancer.

Gas Chromatography techniques have long been used in industry and labs across the world to facilitate scientific breakthroughs and medical research. GC analysis is paramount to these areas of research due to its ability to identify and quantify unknown components in compounds down to ultra-trace levels.

In order to be able to perform to such precision, GC instruments require a supply of reliable, on-demand gases to aid the process of analysis. PEAK Scientific Precision range gas generators have been specifically designed for this purpose. Our Precision series represent the cutting-edge of PEAK Scientific’s innovation in a robust and dependable gas generator design. Our Precision range carries multiple benefits over traditional gas cylinders as it combines convenience and reliability in single space-saving stack, providing a safer and more practical GC gas solution for hydrogen, nitrogen and zero air in your lab.

To learn more about how a Precision gas generator can streamline your GC analysis, click here. If you would like to speak to one of our product specialists, do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

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