An MK charity is liaising with actor Michael J Fox to discover whether DOGS can be used detect Parkinson’s disease.
Experts at Medical Detection Dogs believe their highly-trained canines will be able to sniff out the illness years before symptoms start to show.
The ground-breaking study is partly funded by the Michael J Fox Foundation, which was set up the famous actor after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was just 29.
Parkinson’s disease symptoms typically only start to show once more than half of the relevant nerve cells in the brain have already been lost.
There is currently no definitive test, which means people can be left in a state of limbo while they wait for a diagnosis, say Parkinson’s UK, who are also helping to fund the study.
With scientists at Manchester University, Medical Detection Dogs will use skin swabs to see if their animals can pick up on chemical indicators found on the skin of Parkinson’s patients.
The dogs have already used to sniff out diabetes and even cancer.
The charity’s chief executive Claire Guest said: “The full potential of dogs to detect human disease is just beginning to be understood. If all diseases have an odour, which we have reason to believe they do, we can use dogs to identify them.
“Dogs have 300 million smell receptors in their noses compared to our mere five million.”