1. ITV Report

Dogs could sniff out Parkinson's disease years before symptoms appear

  • Video report by ITV News Anglia's Liz Summers

Dogs could be used to sniff out Parkinson's disease years before symptoms start to show, according to a research charity in Milton Keynes.

Medical Detection Dogs is working on a study - in collaboration with Parkinson's UK - to see if there are odour molecules linked to the neurological condition so dogs can be trained to identify them in patient swabs in future.

We have a few hundred skin swab samples which have arrived from our collaborating university and those have been taken from both patient's who have Parkinson's disease and from people who don't.

So we're going to be using those to train the dogs over the next six to eight months and then we're hoping the results will be ready in about a year to 18 months or so.

– Dr Kate Williams, Manager, Medical Detection Dogs
Dogs are being used to sniff out certain smells Credit: ITV News Anglia

More than 120,000 people are affected by Parkinson's in the UK.

Dr Beckie Port from Parkinson's UK says the research could be very significant to identifying and treating Parkinson's in the early stages.

There are three main symptoms of Parkinson's:

  • Tremor- Involuntary shaking movement in a part of your body
  • Slowness- Movements are slower or less co-ordinated
  • Rigidity- Stiff or inflexible muscles