Changing lives through research

Watch how work at Indiana University is impacting the lives of Hoosiers across the state.

Sniffing out prostate cancer

Description of the following video:


[Words appear: Prostate cancer affects 1 in 6 men in their lifetime and often involves a painful test to diagnose.]

Thomas Gardner speaks: If prostate cancer is diagnosed early, it is 100% curable.

[Words appear: Indiana University is developing an easy and accurate test to change this.]

[Words appear: Changing lives through research, IUPUI]

Thomas speaks: If it's diagnosed late, it can be 100% uncurable.

[Words appear: Michael E. Haggard, Army Veteran, 1969-71]

Michael speaks: They say there's no symptoms, so you don't really know, so I was hoping it wasn't cancer. But on the other hand, if it was, I wanted them to be able to do something about it.

[Words appear: Thomas Gardner, Chief of Urology, VA Medical Center]

Thomas speaks: It is a disease that we have the ability to screen for currently using a blood test currently called PSA. This is not a very good test in the sense that it tells us something's going on in the prostate, but doesn't actually tell us what's going on in the prostate.

Michael speaks: They went in and did biopsy, and they had to put me on some more medicine, and they said let's see where this takes you. I'll be 68 next month, and I'm glad I did it because my dad died of cancer. So when I retired, I thought well I don't wanna be two years out and die because of something stupid.

[Words appear: Mangilal Agarwal, Associate professor of mechanical engineering]

Mangilal speaks: There was a recent study that dogs can sniff urine and can tell whether the patient has prostate cancer or not. So the big question that we are exploring is what is that smell? We collaborated with VA to get these urine samples.

[Words appear: Amanda Siegel, Postdoctoral research, IUPUI]

Amanda speaks: We work with the urology clinic and the veterans who are scheduled for biopsy are invited to join the study and donate urine before their biopsy.

Michael speaks: They said they were doing a study for IU. They told me that they were doing it for the dogs to be able to sniff out prostate cancer, kind of groundbreaking

Mangilal speaks: We are already collaborating with a dog trainer in town who trains medical dogs. The idea is to verify the signature that we identified in the lab with the dogs in the field.

[Words appear: Jennifer Cattet, Owner, Medical Mutts]

Jennifer speaks: We get our samples from Mangi and Amanda from IU. Once we have the samples, we present them to the dogs, and we teach our dogs to look for the specific sample that they need to detect. Everything is visually identical, and the dog only has the option to use his nose to find the sample. The way that we have taught the dogs to indicate that they have found a sample in a can is to maintain their head inside the can until we dispense the treat.

Mangilal speaks: Of course, we can do 100 things in the lab, and we can say this is the biomarker. If we know what signature it is and if we can verify that signature with a trained dog, then we feel that there will be a speedy acceptance of the results in the community.

Amanda speaks: We go to the VA, we pick up the urine samples, we bring them back to the lab, and then we incubate them with a polymer-based fiber which is very good at collecting the scent of the urine on to the fiber because our noses are not as good as the dogs.

Mangilal speaks: So the end goal is have a prostate cancer sensor that can be used in a doctor's office to test prostate cancer in real time. Since it's noninvasive, it just needs urine sample. So once we have this sensor, the goal is to increase widespread screening.

Amanda speaks: Work with sense is something that we're just on the beginning of understanding how important it is. In the the next ten years, we'll see a big explosion in this type of research.


[Video: The Indiana University trident appears]

[Words appear: Indiana University,]

[End of transcript]

Researchers from IUPUI and the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center are using trained dogs to sniff out prostate cancer molecules from urine samples, which could help prevent unnecessary biopsies.