National award for Detection Dogs CEO

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The chief executive of a local charity has won a national award for high-achieving women.

Claire Guest, the co-founder of Great Horwood-based Medical Detection Dogs, has won the First Women award for Science and Technology.

Medical Detection Dogs trains dogs to use their remarkable sense of smell to detect cancer in urine or breath samples.

In training trials, dogs have been shown to achieve a reliability of 93 per cent, much higher than many existing tests used by the NHS.

In her category for the First Women awards, Claire was up against nominees from diverse scientific fields, including the molecular mechanisms of dementia and post-trauma recovery research.

She impressed the judges with her record of overcoming challenges to establish canine detection of disease as a credible new technology.

She was presented with her award by Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan at a ceremony at the Lancaster London hotel.

Claire said: “To be nominated alongside women with such impressive records in the world of science and technology to me is a testament to the extraordinary potential of the work being carried out at the charity I am lucky enough to run.

“I am in the unique and enviable position of working with a technology that has a fluffy coat and a waggy tail! But the fact that dogs are our best friends is not a reason to dismiss them as the highly developed bio-sensors they are.

“Men have created machines capable of analysing odours in the past couple of decades. The dog’s nose has been in development for 800,000 years and unsurprisingly is still leagues ahead of any invention existing today.

“Dogs can detect parts per trillion. That is the equivalent of one spoonful of sugar in two Olympic-sized swimming pools.

“It is not hard to believe that they can detect the odour of human disease.

“I am very grateful for this award. To me, it further establishes the credibility of the charity, which is important as we receive no government funding and rely entirely on public donations to fund our research.

“The faster we can prove scientifically and robustly that our technology works, the sooner we can turn our potentially life-saving research into reality.”

Medical Detection Dogs is currently running two clinical trials with the NHS into the early detection of breast cancer and prostate cancer.