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Researchers Find Ants That Sniff Cancer As Precisely As Dogs

Apr, 2022

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The new study suggested that trained ants can be effective at detecting cancer in humans, by demonstrating how the ants can be trained in no time and detect cancer cells with accuracy equal to that of dogs

Cancer is one of the leading cause of deaths all over the world. However, early detection of cancer with a noninvasive, efficient and inexpensive tool is a challenge for healthcare industry. Now a group of researchers at National Center for Scientific Research CNRS, France conducted a research suggesting trained ants may be an effective way of detecting cancer in humans. The research published in the journal iScience on February 21st 2022 demonstrated a particular species of ant after quick training can detect cancer cells efficiently similar to other animals with abilities of bio-detection, like dogs.

In this new study, the team investigated the possibility of training a particular ant species called Formica fusca. In prior research, scientists found that with unique volatile organic compounds (VOCs) different types of cancer can be detected and ants can detects these VOCs. In this research, the team firstly focused on cells of two types of breast cancer with different VOC profiles. Within three training trials the scientists could trained the ants to distinguish between non-cancerous and cancerous cells with a precision same as that of observed in dogs. With reference to prior research related to ant training, the researchers understood that ants can be used for detecting cancer cells nine times before their responses to condition start failing.

Furthermore, this according to the scientists, made ants more efficient and economic tool of detection compared any other organism or dogs used for such purposes. This study only demonstrated a proof-of-concept. Thus, it needs more work before using this technique for detecting such conditions in the real world.

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