Medical Detection Dogs works in partnership with researchers, NHS Trusts and universities to train specialist dogs to detect the odour of human disease.
The charity was co-founded in 2008 by a team including Dr Claire Guest, a scientist and animal behaviour expert, and Dr John Church, a former orthopaedic surgeon.
It has two main arms: Bio Detection Dogs and Medical Assistance Dogs:
Bio Detection Dogs are trained predominantly to detect the odour of cancer. Their highly sensitive noses can pick up the smell of cancer volatiles in urine or breath samples. The technology has the potential to provide second line testing for cancers that are currently difficult to diagnose reliably, such as prostate cancer. Currently the charity is undertaking two trials, one into the detection of breast cancer and a second into prostate, kidney and bladder cancer with local NHS trusts. Both are three-year studies, expected to be published in 2018.
Medical Assistance Dogs are trained to assist individuals who manage complex medical conditions, such as diabetes, on a day-to-day basis. The dogs are taught to identify the odour changes that are associated with certain medical events, such as a drop in blood sugar level. There are currently 78 dogs partnered across the UK and with more funding this number will increase.
The charity receives no government funding and relies entirely on charitable donations.
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