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Score another one for the canines in the interminable war between dogs and cats.
Splendiferous Schnozes: Dog noses are multiple times more powerful than any man-made sent-detecting tool. So powerful dogs are already used to chase suspects and detect bombs, drugs and other contraband with their noses.
I smell bacon and malaria: Increasingly, dogs are being enlisted in the effort to better diagnose various diseases. The Medical Research Council in Gambia, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been studying the ability of dogs to sniff out malaria. They used socks from infected children to train dogs on the indicator scent. In lab tests, two dogs correctly identified the scent of children infected with malaria 70% of the time.
More canine careers on the horizon: While efforts to get teams of dogs fighting the spread of infectious diseases are still in the early stages, there’s hope for widespread implementation. Dogs could be stationed at airports and other ports of entry to prevent people who aren’t exhibiting symptoms from passing health inspections and spreading malaria to new areas.
The group Medical Detection Dogs has trained pooches to sniff for prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s and urinary tract infections. The dogs are even being recruited to help train machines to do smelly work. MDD is working with a lab in Mexico City developing a bioelectronic nose for detecting cancer by odor.
“We can say to the dog, ‘Here’s 10 cancers, which smells the strongest?’ and then we feed that data to the AI,” Claire Guest of MDD told Wired. “If machines can understand what odor is, that will be a much more powerful tool for us in the future.”