Ants can learn to ‘sniff out’ cancer in patients

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The team found that insects, including ants, have a refined sense of smell and can quickly learn to seek out cancerous VOCs. Photo: Pexels


(Chris Melore/ Study Finds) — Ants may be the answer when it comes to creating an affordable test for diagnosing cancer. Researchers in France say they have successfully trained these ordinary insects to sniff out cancer cells. In lab experiments, the tiny cancer screeners could actually tell the difference between the smell of healthy cells and disease cells.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and detecting it can be a difficult and expensive process. Although procedures like mammograms, MRIs, and biopsies are common, scientists have also tried other methods to screen for cancer — including using the power of smell.

A team from the French National Centre for Scientific Research explains that cancer cells alter a patient’s metabolism. This process produces a unique pattern of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — which have their own odors as well. (…)

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