Early detection of cancer is essential in medical science, because the sooner it is diagnosed The higher the chances of the patients to recover. aNow, a team of French scientists has found that ants can “reliably” detect tumor signals.
Although this is basic research and more experiments are still needed, the results are “hopeful,” says lead researcher Baptiste Picret. The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
How does the sense of smell work to detect cancer?
animal odor is a method Which can increase the rate of early detection of cancer, scientists have described in their article.
Tumor cells are characterized by a metabolism change, forming unique patterns of compounds volatile organic matter (VOCs) that can be used as cancer biomarkers. According to the study authors, throughThrough olfactory associative learning, animals can be trained to detect these substances.
For example, Trained dogs can detect tumors in cell samples or in body odor samples, but they simply haven’t been able to, he says.
among insects, Ants -and in particular “Formica fusca”-, have shown a remarkable learning ability with ecologically relevant odors; Ants have a “pretty good” sense of smell and can be trained easily and quickly, he says.
How can ants smell cancer?
For their study, the researchers implanted human breast cancer tumor cells into mice and founde Ants can learn to recognize the smell of healthy rodents The smell of animals with tumors.
“we show Ants can detect the presence of cancer in the urine of mice after a brief training”, summarizes Baptiste Picret from the University Sorbonne Paris Nord on his Twitter account.
The team trained a group of ants to associate the smell of tumors for a few minutes in three separate trials A Chinese bounty.
They were then released into an area containing healthy and tumor urine, but without any reward, and had their preferences measured.
“We found that they spent more time – 20 percent more – next to the learned odor (urine with tumours),” explains Piceret, now at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology.
Chemical analysis confirmed this The presence of tumors changed the smell of urineWhich confirms the practical results.
“Our study shows that ants reliably detect tumor signals in the urine of mice and that they have the potential to act as effective and cheap cancer biosensors,” the authors say in their article, published last year. publishes another work already done in cancer cell samples. same conclusion.
However, Piceret insisted, need more experiments Before seeing “an oncologist ant”, but these “results are promising”.