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Dogs sniff-out lung damage bacteria in cystic fibrosis research
Lizzie, one of the three Medical Detection Dogs that worked on the trial.

Researchers assess dogs' ability to detect bacteria at ultra-low concentrations

Medical detection dogs could be used to identify the bacteria that cause lung damage in cystic fibrosis (CF) before it takes hold, according to new research. 

Findings published in the European Respiratory Journal show that medical detection dogs have a very high level of accuracy when asked to identify bacteria associated with serious lung infections.

One of the leading causes of lung damage in CF is infection with bacterial pathogens, the most prevalent being Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pa). Pa chronically infects some 60 per cent of the 10,000 patients in the UK by adolescence and adulthood.

The study revealed that medical detection dogs can sniff-out Pa bacteria grown in a nutrient liquid that also contains other CF bacterial pathogens. Researchers conclude that dogs could eventually prove more sensitive and cost-effective for screening lower airway infection in CF, compared with existing technologies.

The study was conducted by Imperial College London and Royal Brompton Hospital, in collaboration with Medical Detection Dogs, supported by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. 

“This is a really exciting development. Advanced technology to detect infections, for example in breath, has proved difficult so far,” explained Professor Jane Davies, from Imperial College London. “The successful training of the dogs on cultured samples will now be used as the foundation for testing patient samples directly.”

In the study, researchers assessed the ability of four dogs to detect Pa from other CF-causing bacteria. The bacteria were grown in the laboratory, filtered out of the solution and presented to the dogs.

The dogs were trained and tested on customised sample presentation stands. During the training period, the dogs were rewarded for identifying Pa correctly with food and the sound of a click.

After training, the dogs were given Pa-positive samples, other cultured bacterial controls or sterile liquid in a random, computer-generated sequence. The dogs indicated a positive sample by stopping or sitting down and were rewarded if correct. 

The samples were then presented to the dogs in a double-blind testing scenario.

“The findings of this world-first study into the ability of dogs to detect Pseudomonas are yet another indicator of their remarkable contribution to saving human lives,” commented Dr Claire Guest, Chief Executive and co-founder of Medical Detection Dogs.

“Pseudomonas is a condition that affects thousands of people each year in the UK alone. I can assure them that Medical Detection Dogs is working very hard to find effective, affordable and sustainable ways to manage their condition.”

Image (C) Medical Detection Dogs.

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Celebrity chefs urge public to get baking to support Cats Protection fundraiser

News Story 1
 In support of Cats Protection's Pawsome Afternoon Tea fundraiser, Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and Great British Bake Off star Kim-Joy have shared biscuit recipes to help keen bakers raise money for needy cats across April.

The celebrity chefs are both cat owners and have said that they hope this fundraiser will help to raise awareness of cats in need and the importance of adopting a cat, rather than buying one.

This is the fourth year Cats Protection has run its Pawsome Afternoon Tea campaign, which encourages people to hold tea parties, bake sales and fundraising events to help raise money for the charity.

To view the recipes and other fundraising resources please visit the Cats Protection website. 

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BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.