HomeScience and TechnologyAnts Can Detect Cancer...

Ants Can Detect Cancer Tumors In Urine, Scientists Find

Move over dogs, ants are the new olfactory superheroes. A new study has found that ants can “sniff out” cancer tumors in urine samples.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that ants’ sense of smell is so strong that they can detect cancer in urine with very little training.

“Ants can be used as bio-detectors to discriminate healthy individuals from tumor-bearing ones,” study author Professor Patrizia d’Ettorre, of Sorbonne Paris Nord University, said, Sky News reported. “They are easy to train, learn fast, are very efficient, and are not expensive to keep.”

For the study, the research team used 70 ants (species Formica fusca) and exposed them to urine samples of mice with, and without, tumors.

The mice were transplanted with human breast cancer tumors, using a technique called xenografting. The experiment was quite simple actually. Urine from both cancer-afflicted and healthy mice was collected. The ants were trained by placing a drop of sugar water in front of the urine from rodents having cancer. When the sugar water was removed, the insects hung around cancer urine for about 20% longer than that of healthy mice, the study found. This is textbook association learning. The ants were made to associate the smell of tumors with a sweet reward.

“We trained them with associative learning to associate a given odor – cancer – with a reward and, after very few trials, they learned the association,” Prof d’Ettorre explained. “We demonstrated that ants can discriminate the urine of healthy mice from the urine of tumor-bearing mice.

Unbelievably, it took just three rounds of training, around 10 minutes total, to teach the ants smell association. For context, training cancer-smelling dogs can take around six months.

“That’s something we were not expecting, to see it that fast,” Baptiste Piqueret, an ethologist at Sorbonne Paris North University and lead author of the study said, as per Scientific American.

The research team has previously shown that the same species of ants could differentiate between cancer cells and healthy cells grown in culture.

However, this time the researchers leveled up by trying the experiment on urine samples. “This is more similar to a real-life situation than using cultured cancer cells,” Prof d’Ettorre noted. “We were surprised by how efficient and reliable the ants are.”

Now, the research team wants to investigate the minimum size of tumors that can be detected by the ants. In the new study, the tumors were proportionally large for mice. In the future, scientists hope to mimic the same results for human urine.

Most Popular

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More from Author

CDC Investigates Stroke Risk Of Pfizer Bivalent Booster

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still...

This Cancer Drug Can Increase Longevity, Study Finds

A new study has found that a particular cancer drug has...

American Heart Association Reports Largest Increase In Cardiovascular-Related Deaths

A recent report by the American Heart Association has found that...

74th Indian Republic Day Parade 2023 – All You Need To Know

Building on last year’s celebrations, in the 75th year of Independence,...

Read Now

CDC Investigates Stroke Risk Of Pfizer Bivalent Booster

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still looking into the reported stroke risk of older adults who received Pfizer’s bivalent booster shots. Health officials from the agency gave an update Thursday on the issue, which was brought to light earlier this month, saying the...

This Cancer Drug Can Increase Longevity, Study Finds

A new study has found that a particular cancer drug has the ability to extend life span. The finding is a shot in the arm for the scientists racing against time.The study, published in the journal Nature Aging, showed that long-term treatment of healthy mice from middle...

American Heart Association Reports Largest Increase In Cardiovascular-Related Deaths

A recent report by the American Heart Association has found that the COVID-19 pandemic indirectly led to the largest increase in cardiovascular-related deaths in the U.S.The data report, published Wednesday in the journal Circulation, found that 2020, the first year of the pandemic, saw the most number...

74th Indian Republic Day Parade 2023 – All You Need To Know

Building on last year’s celebrations, in the 75th year of Independence, celebrated as ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the Republic Day celebration this year shall witness zeal, enthusiasm, patriotic fervour, and ‘Jan Bhagidari’, as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. President Droupadi Murmu will lead the Nation in celebrating...

Here’s What A High-Fat Diet Does To The Brain

Fatty foods taste so good. There’s no denying it. But there’s a new reason to avoid it since according to a recent study, a high-fat diet leads to more food intake and weight gain. Scientists from Penn State College of Medicine reported in their study published in The...

Updated Boosters Lower COVID-19 Risk By Half: CDC

The updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters are very dependable when it comes to preventing the disease, with new data showing they cut the risk of getting sick from the coronavirus by about half. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new studies on the bivalent boosters this...

Constitution makers’ vision guiding our Republic: Prez Murmu

STATE TIMES NEWS NEW DELHI: Founders of the Constitution gave us a map and moral framework, the task of “walking that path remains our...

Digital currency to further bolster digital economy, says RBI

CHANDIGARH: Digital currency will further bolster the digital economy, make payment system more efficient, reduce cost involved in physical cash management and also...

Multi-layer security cover in Delhi for Republic Day celebrations

NEW DELHI: A multi-layer security cover has been put in place ahead of Republic Day celebrations in the national capital to thwart any...

Main shooter behind grenade attack on Punjab Police intelligence HQ arrested: NIA

NEW DELHI: A terror operative who was the main shooter in the grenade attack on the Punjab Police intelligence headquarters in Mohali last...

26 unsung heroes honoured with Padma awards

NEW DELHI: Medical professional Dilip Mahalanabis, who returned from the US to serve in 1971-Bangladesh war refugee camps and promoted world wide use...