RAF Personnel assist Biomedical detection dogs in visit to RAF Halton

  |  Published: Mar 8th 2017

Personnel from RAF Halton have assisted in the training of Medical Detection Dogs who are being taught to detect cancers and other illnesses.

The Biomedical Testing Unit at Milton Keynes Hospital contacted Station Warrant Officer, Jake Alpert, to ask for the Station’s help. He immediately trawled for volunteers and today the clinic took place with personnel answering a few questions before being asked to donate a urine sample, the main criteria being that they were volunteers and under no pressure to donate. 

The purpose of this ethically approved research study is to demonstrate that dogs can be trained to detect different types of urological cancer, (prostate, bladder and kidney) from urine samples. It is hoped that the work will enable scientists to develop an early cancer screening system. They hope to recruit up to 3000 participants.

Three research nurses, Heini Alderman, Louise Moran and Francesca Wright attended and were joined by detection dog, Kiwi, a golden labrador and his handler, Bio Detection Training Manager, Rob Harris, who is responsible for 29 dogs, eight of which are actively working.

Heini said: “It is all going very well and we are grateful for all the lovely enthusiastic volunteers who have come to donate, as we don’t normally get a lot of volunteers coming forward. The samples will now go to Milton Keynes for a routine dipstick test, the sort you would have in a doctor’s surgery.  After that they will be frozen to minus 80 degrees until they are required by the biodetection area. Normally eight samples are put in a row or carousel for the dogs to sniff. Detection can be so fine that they can detect a teaspoon of blood in an olympic sized swimming pool.”

One of the candidates said: “It was a very simple process whereby they asked a few questions to check we had volunteered. We donated and left, it was that simple. We are used to controlled drug testing in the military so it was no big deal and we are happy to help.”

Dr. Claire Guest, Chief Executive Officer for the Medical Detection Dogs, said: “We are delighted to work with RAF Halton and for their assistance in providing samples for training dogs for the Milton Keynes University Hospital prostate cancer research project.  The samples from healthy men and women will help us to train our specialist prostate cancer detection dogs which we believe will result in an effective, accurate non-evasive test.”

Bio detection dogs are used to detect all sorts of cancers and infection. If you would like to donate you should be between the ages of 18 and 40 and healthy. You can make an appointment with the Research Department at Milton Keynes University Hospital by contacting them directly on 01908 995117 or emailing francesca.wright@mkuh.nhs.uk  To learn more about their work go to www.medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk

recruitment poster
meeting the nurses
the team
an interviewee
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