NAPLES, Fla., July 20, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Trained dogs can detect specific scents associated with several important diseases, so we need to find out if they could screen for Alzheimer’s disease, says Leslie Norins, MD, PhD, FIDSA, CEO of Alzheimer’s Germ Quest. He says that’s why his group is posting a $200,000 challenge award (OpEdist.com) for convincing evidence of this canine ability.
Alzheimer’s disease is a serious health problem; the Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are 6.7 million Americans living with the condition.
Dr. Norins explains that there is presently no inexpensive, easy-to-use screening test for this form of dementia, nor for mild cognitive impairment, a condition which is a possible harbinger of it.
Dogs’ noses are about three times as sensitive as human ones for odor detection, He notes familiar uses of these abilities include bloodhounds for tracking criminals and sniffer dogs to detect narcotics and explosives.
Less well known to the public, Dr. Norins says, is that canines have been trained to spot, fairly accurately, several medical conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, cancer, malaria, TB, and, more recently, COVID-19.
The molecules the dogs are detecting are believed to be volatile organic compounds, familiarly called VOC. They can be found in easy-to-obtain patient samples like urine, saliva, breath, and sweat.
Dr. Norins stresses that to train dogs to recognize a disease’s scent, it is not necessary to understand why these VOC are produced. He cautions there is no assurance Alzheimer’s-specific scent molecules exist, or that dogs can detect them.
He urges organizations with trainable sniffer dogs to collaborate with medical groups which can supply non-intrusive samples from Alzheimer’s patients.
Dr. Norins emphasizes that challenge awards are not research grants and are offered for convincing achievement of results rather than conducting explorations. The Alzheimer’s sniffer dog quest ends December 31, 2024. Details are posted at OpEdist.com.
Contact: Dr. Leslie Norins
SOURCE Alzheimer’s Germ Quest