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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chemical senses: Sniffing out disease

source of photo of Bouvier:

"Chemical senses: Sniffing out disease" by Katherine Whalley

Since the first discovery of the odorant receptors, several families of receptors that detect odorants or pheromones have been identified. Rodriguez and colleagues now report the discovery of a new class of chemosensory receptor and show that these receptors can detect disease-related molecules.

Many animals detect pheromones and other social cues through sensory neurons in the vomeronasal organ (VNO). ...

Katherine Whalley concludes her article at"

by stating:

"These findings suggest that the VNO can detect molecules related to disease or inflammation. How this information is used is unknown; however, the authors speculate that it could help animals to avoid rotten food or identify unhealthy members of their own species in order to aid effective social interactions. Further work may investigate these hypotheses as well as identify additional ligands for this receptor family."

I am discussing this topic on my blog, because of the fact that recently I have read articles online and in Science and Medical magazines which indicate that house-hold pets (dogs) have been able to smell that one of their owners is suffering from cancer! (See: Can Dogs Sniff Out Cancer?)

According to the "Can Dogs Sniff Out Cancer link above:

"In an actual scientific study, six dogs, including Bee, had to distinguish the cancerous sample from the six non-cancerous samples. Dr. Carolyn Willis, a research dermatologist who assisted in the study, says that neither the researchers nor the dogs had any way of knowing in advance which sample was cancerous.

"All the way along, it was blinded so that I would code the samples. And then they would be taken to a completely different building, and those coded samples would be put in a certain position along the line-up," says Willis. "Nobody at any one time knew which was the bladder cancer sample."

Not until after the dogs made their choices. One dog failed completely, but two picked out the cancerous sample 60 percent of the time. The overall average was 41 percent success. That percentage may seem small, but Willis says it amounts to a major success for the dogs.

"The 41 percent, as far as I'm concerned, was a remarkable result," says Willis. "And it was highly statistically significant."

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.