Seeking early detection system, Pa. researchers uses dogs to help sniff out ovarian cancer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Researchers trying to develop a diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer are hoping dogs' keen sense of smell will lead them down the right path.

An early detection device that combines old-fashioned olfactory skills, chemical analysis and modern technology could lead to better survival rates for the disease, which is particularly deadly because it's often not caught until an advanced stage.

Using blood and tissue samples donated by patients, the University of Pennsylvania's Working Dog Center has started training three canines to sniff out the signature compound that indicates the presence of ovarian cancer.

If the animals can isolate the chemical marker, scientists at the nearby Monell Chemical Senses Center will work to create an electronic sensor to identify the same odorant.

"Because if the dogs can do it, then the question is, Can our analytical instrumentation do it? We think we can," Monell organic chemist George Preti said.

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