Ants can smell cancer in urine, says new studytext_fields
Paris: Several studies have found that illnesses like cancer are detectable via scent but most humans do not have the sense of smell required for it. Now, a new study has found that ants can detect cancer cells in urine with the olfactory receptors on their antennae.
Cancerous tumours release distinct volatile organic compounds showing up in sweat and urine among other bodily fluids. Ants, known for their strong sense of smell, can sniff them out. Researchers at Sorbonne Paris Nord University think this ability of ants can be developed into a cost-effective way of diagnosis.
Experts grafted pieces of human breast cancer onto mice for the study. Then 35 ants of the Formica fusca were exposed to the urine of mice with and without cancer. They spent significantly more time around the urine of cancerous mice. Scientists are now planning to test whether these ants can detect cancer in human urine.
The insects also tried to associate the smell of cancer with a reward of sugary water. Researchers noted that training ants are easier than dogs and other animals. Training a dog takes six months. Ants can be trained using three rounds in 10 minutes. Study author Professor Patrizia d'Ettorre told PA news agency that ants learn fast, are very efficient, and are inexpensive to keep.