CA­NINE CAN­CER PRO­JECT

Stanthorpe Border Post - - FRONT PAGE - Liana Walker [email protected]­der­post.com.au

I hope by mid-year we’ll be able to con­fi­den­tially say that dog is start­ing to re­alise that urine’s got can­cer.

— Matt Hib­berd

DOGS could be the key to early can­cer de­tec­tion thanks to their in­cred­i­ble sense of smell.

In a Queens­land-first, owner of Law­dogs Aus­tralia Matt Hib­berd is hop­ing to train his truf­fle de­tec­tion dogs to de­tect can­cer cells in urine.

“Dogs are nat­u­rally at­tracted to can­cer in the body, and we know when peo­ple have can­cer­ous cells they emit volatile or­ganic com­pounds through dif­fer­ent parts of their body, whether it’s their saliva, their sweat, their breath or their urine,” Mr Hib­berd said.

“We want to tap into some of those par­tic­u­larly harder to de­tect and ones peo­ple aren’t screen­ing much for - like prostate can­cer for men who don’t re­ally go to the doc­tor when they should.”

The aim of the pro­ject is to de­velop a home test kit as an al­ter­na­tive to can­cers which use more in­va­sive de­tec­tion such as prostate or cer­vi­cal.

Al­though the process for train­ing dogs to de­tect can­cer is fun­da­men­tally the same as train­ing them to de­tect truf­fles, a lot more pre­ci­sion is re­quired.

“In­stead of ex­pos­ing the dog to one sam­ple of truf­fle a few dozen times, we are go­ing to have to ex­pose it to 500 sam­ples of pa­tients urine to get them to con­di­tion or im­print what the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor is which is can­cer, be­cause there’s a lot of other smells in that urine as well.

“It’s the same process over­all but the de­tail re­quires a lot more anal­y­sis and a lot more sam­ples.”

The next step for Mr Hib­berd is part­ner­ing with a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner to de­velop a clin­i­cal study.

“I would hope over the next month or two we’ll get those part­ner­ships in place and get the method­ol­ogy in place and be able to start the train­ing in March to April.

“Be­cause of the vol­ume of sam­ples we’re prob­a­bly look­ing at three to six months to try and train the dogs up.

“I would say later this year we’d be able to turn around to a stu­dent or an in­de­pen­dent body and say come and ver­ify what we’re do­ing,” Mr Hib­berd said.

“I hope by mid-year we’ll be able to con­fi­dently say that dog is start­ing to re­alise that urine’s got can­cer.”

Watch­ing his own Dad’s bat­tle with prostate can­cer along with want­ing to start a phil­an­thropic pro­ject were what in­spired Mr Hib­berd to start the pro­ject.

“We've got the dogs, we've got the re­sources, we've got the runs on the board, there's five days a week we’re not do­ing any­thing, we could be de­vel­op­ing the next best thing.

“Tourism is quite frag­ile in this re­gion, any­one who just re­lies on a tourism prod­uct will go broke very quickly.”

PHOTO: LIANA WALKER

EARLY DE­TEC­TION: Matt Hib­berd, from Law­dogs Aus­tralia, is plan­ning to use his dogs to de­tect can­cer in urine sam­ples.

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