LAOM - harness this and you’ll have the world at your feet

If you’re a dog, that is.

Researchers have discovered that through the domestication and evolutionary process, dogs have gradually acquired a new forehead muscle named the levator anguli oculi medialis, or LAOM, and have used it to deploy the doleful look to devastating effect ever since, according to a report from the Guardian.

“They are very powerful animals in how they capture our hearts,” said Prof Bridget Waller, the director of the Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Portsmouth. “We pay a lot of attention to faces, they are meaningful to us, and this expression makes dogs look juvenile and sad. It induces a nurturing response. It’s a cute factor,” the report in the Guardian revealed.

And while it has been a saying for years, that a dog is a person’s best friend, their cute pose isn’t the only reason why.

By harnessing a canine’s extremely powerful sense of smell, Israeli scientists are using dogs to sniff a person’s saliva to identify if they have cancer. And they are so spot on they can even identify which cancer a person has. 

Dogs have a sense of smell up to 100,000 times better than humans, and for this powerful reason, dogs are being employed in labs in Israel to smell saliva as it is believed cancerous cells emit an odour which dogs can identify, even before diagnosis.

With a better survival rate from cancer greatly dependent on early detection, this canine medical breakthrough could be at the forefront of saving lives.

An Israeli start up company called Prognose 220 Mil has developed a saliva testing kit that allows people to send a spit sample via courier, the Daily Mail UK reported.

The dogs are presented with the sample and if they sit still after its assessment, it suggests that there is disease.

According to the Daily Mail article, in the UK there is also a charity currently operating which is using dogs to try and detect cancer by smelling people's breath. In 2015, Medical Detection Dogs and Milton Keynes Hospital NHS trust conducted a landmark trial which included nine animals: six labradors, two spaniels and a Hungarian vizsla, the Daily Mail reported.

Their cancer detection rate had an accuracy of 93 per cent – far higher than current testing methods, researchers said.

Perhaps this is just one very important reason why a dog has been considered a person’s best friend from ancient times.


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