Ants Demonstrate Ability to Sniff Out Cancer in Urine: Study

Ants Demonstrate Ability to Sniff Out Cancer in Urine: Study

Ants Can Detect Early Cancer in Rodents according to the Recent Study By French Scientists

A team of French scientists from Université Sorbonne Paris Nord recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences about their discovery that ants can detect cancer signals in rodents. Lead researcher Baptiste Piqueret finds the results promising as it could open doors for cheap, early detection of cancer.

Tumor cells are characterized by altered metabolism, producing unique patterns of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can be used as cancer biomarkers. Ants -such as Formica fusca- have a “fine” sense of smell and can be trained easily and quickly.

The team grafted human breast cancer tumors on mice and used ants to detect the difference between healthier and health-tumor mouse urine. After training the ants, they were put in an arena with healthy and tumor urine samples, with no reward.

The results showed that the ants were indeed more drawn to the tumor urine for up to 20 percent more. Chemical analyses also confirmed that the tumor urine had a distinct smell –which further corroborate the behavioral results according to Baptiste Piqueret.

Though more experiments in this regard are required, Piqueret is hopeful that this could open a path for easy and cheap detection of cancer cells.

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