Dogs are renowned for their exceptional sense of smell, but the dogs from K9 Medical Detection have taken their abilities to new heights. These incredible animals are now trained to detect bowel cancer, simply by sniffing urine samples.
At the helm of this organisation is Pauline Blomfield, Founder and CEO, who started the venture in 2018. She proudly asserts, “We are doing world leading research and are passionate to create a new diagnostic test for early cancer detection.”
Pauline emphasises that the dogs’ detection work does not aim to replace any step in the medical process but serves as an additional tool for surgeons.
“It provides them with more information to make informed decisions regarding patient prioritisation, allowing for earlier treatment and alleviating some of the strain on the healthcare system.”
The facility houses a diverse range of dog breeds, including German Shepherds, Labradors, Springer Spaniels, and a Red Retriever.
Pauline acknowledges the pivotal role played by Invercargill in advancing this research.
“The Southland community has been incredibly supportive, with Southern Cross Hospital coming on board early. Local surgeon Professor Konrad Richter has facilitated K9MD’s work in Southland and is crucial to our ongoing success. We are fortunate to have two nurses to collect patient samples and educate them about this groundbreaking initiative.”
“The funding received from ILT has been instrumental in covering the costs of nurses and transporting crucial samples to our research facilities.”
A recent milestone celebrated by K9MD involved K9 Weta and K9 Levi successfully detecting bowel cancer in patient urine samples. Pauline describes this achievement as a world first and a significant step forward in early detection of bowel cancer in New Zealand.
However, the team’s aspirations extend beyond bowel cancer, as they are actively training and developing the dogs to detect both prostate and ovarian cancer.
Pauline eagerly mentions, “Expanding our K9 family with a dog from local Flagstaff Labrador Kennels thanks to ILT’s funding, will be a wonderful addition to our team.”
In the meantime, the dogs will continue their medical detection training under the guidance of their amazing trainers. It’s not all hard work though, the dogs have a good work-life balance, being cared for by foster families and kept in top physical condition by their veterinary team.