Academic research

Wise Nose –Finland Smell Detection Association will collaborate in an inter- and multidisciplinary canine research project. The goal of the research is to study how reliably dogs can identify malignant cancer in urin samples. The research begun in February 2015 with identification of canine mammary cancer. The next research begins in March 2016 and the next targets are human prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. The estimated duration of the upcoming research is five years.

The research is conducted in collaboration with the: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (DVM, PhD Adjunct Professor Anna Hielm-Björkman) HUCH Comprehensive Cancer Center (Professor Heikki Joensuu and Chief Physician Johanna Mattson) University of Tampere (MD, PhD, DSc, Adjunct Professor Niku Oksala) HUS Biopankki (MD, PhD, Adjunct Professor, Board certified pathologist Tuomas Mirtti) University of Eastern Finland, Pharmaseutical Faculty (Professor Jouko Vepsäläinen and Adjunct Professor Tuomo A. Keinänen).

The most important issues are:

  • What is the odor of cancer?
  • Do all the cancer types have the same odor molecyles which a dog can identify?
  • Will it be possible for the dogs to find early stages of malignant cancers?
  • What is the minimum amount of molecyles from which a dog can make the odor identification?

In addition, the training and learning process of the dogs is documented scientifically in order to be able to train more dogs more efficiently in the future.

The canine urine samples used in the research are from the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and from the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The human prostate samples are partly from HUB; the Helsinki Urological Biobank and partly from HUS – The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa. The study is planned as a double-blind study which means that neither the dog or the dog handler will know which sample is positive. A research assistant records the dog’s findings. The same samples will also be studied by mass spectrometry at the University of Eastern Finland and by using the artificial nose; the E-nose, at Tampere University in an attempt to isolate the odor molecyle which the dogs identify as the cancer odor. When the odor molecyle is found it is possible to develop new cost efficient diagnostic methods to help find cancer in early stages.

Wise Nose – Finland Smell Detection Association is also part of a network of international cancer detection dog groups (Medical detection Dogs, England and Medical Detection Dogs, Italy). The groups have the same methods of processing the samples, documentation and dog training and thus the studies conducted within different groups are comparable. The results of an international research cooperation are significant; a desease can be studied simultaneously from urine samples in Finland, from breath samples in England and skin samples in Italy to determine which type of samples is the best for dog detection.

Wise Nose –Finland Smell Detection Association’s task is to train dogs to be used in science and research and to find partners globally. The association is a spokesman and maintains networks of participants woldwide and runs the current research on the ground level. Wise Nose has a laboratory for training of medical detection dogs in Viikki, Helsinki.