Disability charity partners with detection dogs

DEMAND engineer Malcolm Brown and student designer Luke Denby at Medical Detection Dogs
DEMAND engineer Malcolm Brown and student designer Luke Denby at Medical Detection Dogs
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DEMAND Design & Manufacture for Disability is helping a canine charity with its pioneering scientific trials.

Medical Detection Dogs, based in north Bucks, is training dogs to reliably detect the odour of cancer in a urine sample, as part of its mission to make sure life-threatening cancers are detected and diagnosed sooner.

Now Abbots Langley-based DEMAND is helping to advance its scientific trials with custom-made testing equipment.

DEMAND creates custom-engineered products to improve the day-to-day lives of disabled people. The team’s design and engineering skills mean they were ideally placed to work in partnership with Medical Detection Dogs to create the testing apparatus that is key to the dogs’ training and ongoing scientific trials.

The first bio-detection testing carousel was devised in 2008. In DEMAND’s engineering workshop, the team created a carousel with eight sample sniffing ‘stations’. The dog sniffs each sample in turn until it detects a cancer-positive urine sample and indicates this to the handler.

This year, with Medical Detection Dogs’ research rapidly progressing, DEMAND has created a new and improved carousel to help further the charity’s research.

There were a number of design considerations.

The carousel needed to be adjustable in height so different breeds of detection dog can work at a comfortable height.

A consideration for the most recent design was the concern that the intelligent dogs may be able to recognise the numbers at each sample station, which may influence their actions.

To eliminate this possibility, DEMAND’s engineers needed to devise a way of labelling each sample station that would not be visible from a dog’s eye view.