A UK trial to investigate the use of specially-trained cancer-detecting dogs has been approved by the NHS following early promising results. In the initial study, the animals successfully detected 93% of cancer cases by smelling urine samples.
The hope is that use of the animals could help to reduce the high number of false positives thrown up by the currently-used Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test.
“Medical Detection Dogs,” the charity training the dogs, was set up by Dr Claire Guest, after her domestic pet seemed to detect her previously undiagnosed breast cancer.
As she says “We should not be turning our backs on these highly sensitive bio-detectors just because they have furry coats.”
Her choice of words is interesting, as the dogs would presumably be classified as medical devices. There are already regulations in place to control the manufacture of devices that use animal tissue – but I’m not aware of any that control the use of entire animals.
You could argue that in this case the training regime is equivalent to the manufacturing process and should be rigorously controlled.
If it sounds like I’m being flippant – I’m not.
If any medical process is found to be effective, generic competition is never far behind. Me-too companies may soon be snapping at the heels of Medical Detection Dogs…
Read more [here]