Claire Guest, co-founder and CEO of local charity Medical Detection Dogs, has won the national First Women award for Science and Technology.
Claire impressed the judges with her record of overcoming significant personal challenges to establish canine olfactory detection of disease as a credible new technology.
She said: “To be nominated alongside women with such impressive records in the world of science and technology to me is a testament to the extraordinary potential of the work being carried out at the charity I am lucky enough to run.”
She added: “I am in the unique and enviable position of working with a technology that has a fluffy coat and a waggy tail!
“But the fact that dogs are our best friends is not a reason to dismiss them as the highly developed bio-sensors they are. Men have created machines capable of analysing odours in the past couple of decades.”
The dog’s nose has been in development for 800 thousand years and unsurprisingly is still leagues ahead of any invention existing today.
Claire said: “Dogs can detect parts per trillion. That is the equivalent of one spoonful of sugar in two Olympic-sized swimming pools. It is not hard to believe that they can detect the odour of human disease.”
Medical Detection Dogs, which is based just outside Milton Keynes, receives no government funding and rely entirely on public donations to fund its research.
It trains dogs to use their noses to detect cancer in urine or breath samples. Trials have shown a reliability of 93 per cent, much higher than many existing tests used by the NHS.
“The faster we can prove scientifically and robustly that our technology works, the sooner we can turn our potentially life-saving research into reality,” said Claire.
The charity’s second arm provides life-saving support to individuals with long-term serious conditions such as brittle type one diabetes, by training dogs to be alert to assist them. The dogs alert their diabetic partners to dangerous falls in their sugar levels and prompt them to take their medication before they suffer a hypoglycaemic attack.