A major scientific discovery from our Ethology research lab : « Dogs demonstrate the existence of an epileptic seizure odour in humans"

Amélie Catana, Phd student at Université de Rennes 1's Ethology research lab, has conducted a pionner investigation on trained dogs that could lead to a great improvement in detecting epyleptic seizures

Marine Grandgeorge and Amélie Catala, who carried out the experience © Université de Rennes 1/dircom/JLG
  1. Some diseases associated with specific bodily odour : epileptic seizures as well
  2. Impressive results of the smell experience on trained dogs
  3. A potentially great step towards seizure detection

Some diseases associated with specific bodily odour : epileptic seizures as well

Although the connection between a specific bodily odour and some diseases such as breast or lung cancer is well-known among scientific community, no direct link had ever been made between a specific smell created by a body on the verge of an epileptic seizure.

 The question is whether a “seizure-odour”, that would be transversal to individuals and types of seizures, exists. This would be a pre requisite for potential anticipation, either by electronic systems (e.g., e-noses) or trained dogs.

says Amélie Catala (article published in Scientific Reports). " Despite the variety of seizures that exist, results of the experience carried out by Amélie Catala and Marine Grandgeorge have shown very clearly that, indeed, trained dogs are able to discriminate the seizure odour.

 

Impressive results of the smell experience on trained dogs

This scientific work follows several observations made by instructors of Assistance dogs organizations ( Handi’Chiens in France, and Medical Mutts in Indianapolis, USA) : some owners have noticed that before having a seizure attack, their dogs were to show a specific behaviour. Thus, this modification in the dog behaviour could have a warning fonction.
Various odours have been collected, from five lady patients, on different parts of the body (breath, neck or forehead) and in various conditions (after moderate physical effort for instance). Collected on sterile cotton wool, samples were sent to Jennifer Cattet, director of Medical Mutts.

Among samples of odours they had never been in contact with, the five trained dogs from Medical Mutts could very quickly recognize the specific odour of seizure from the only sample that contained some.
 

 

A potentially great step towards seizure detection

The precision of the results led the researchers think that this major discovery may lead to significant improvements in terms of detection, and therefore help patients with Epilepsy.
Amélie Catala and Marie Grandgeorge's article has been published in Scientific Reports review, and represents a major step for international research on this topic. The results of this experiment have been massively broadcasted around global scientific and general media.