Sunday, February 05, 2006

Benji, MD; Curious George, PhD

Seeing as how we've been bayblabbing on topics like ESP and animal behaviour lately, get a load of this Globe and Mail piece on medical prescience in dogs. The most intriguing anecdote is about an epileptic girl whose dog warns her of impending seizures several times each day, giving her time to get in a safe position and avoid injury. Apparently this is fairly common; in one study 15% of families with an epileptic member reported that their pets could anticipate seizures before they occurred.

In cancer research, we all know that early detection is the key to effective treatment. Can (wo)man's best bud diagnose cancer too? A group from California reports that they could train Lab Retrievers and Portuguese Water Dogs to accurately diagnose cancer by sniffing a patient's breath. They argue that the dogs are responding to cancer-specific chemicals emitted in the patient's breath, but it is not clear from this report whether the dogs are indeed responding to such chemicals or those induced by radiation or chemotherapy. Even if dogs truly can detect cancer, it remains to be seen whether they can do so before the disease is picked up by conventional diagnostic technology. But of course the most important question of this diagnostic training heritable...???

In entertainment, Hollywood is finally paying tribute to the original explorer-scientist primate...check out the trailer for the upcoming Curious George flick.
The soundtrack, done by Jack Johnson with a little Ben Harper, is fun too.