Diagnosis by smell of insects - healing practice

Breakthrough in cancer diagnosis achieved

Will insects diagnose cancer in humans in the near future? The latest research results suggest this, because it was possible to identify different types of cancer of the oral cavity using the sense of smell of insects and a special sensor.

A recent study by researchers at Michigan State University investigated whether locusts could identify different types of cancer based on their sense of smell. The results can be found on the English preprint server for life sciences "BioRxiv".

Diagnosis of diseases by animals

In the past, animals were trained to detect certain diseases in humans. For example, dogs can detect cancer or COVID-19.

Can insects smell cancer?

There is now a new approach to diagnosing insect cancer. A so-called COV sensor is used, which is based on the neural circuits of the olfactory sense of insects.

Evidence of cancer in expired air

According to the researchers, it has already been clearly proven that metabolic processes in cancer cells have changed. This is reflected in the composition of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the exhaled air of affected individuals.

The researchers built a new VOC sensor for which an in vivo insect brain was first associated with an electrophysiology platform. With that
To do this, neural olfactory responses triggered by the composition of volatile organic compounds in individual cell cultures were analyzed in what is known as the antennal lobe, an area of ​​the brain in insects.

Insects have sniffed out three types of mouth cancer

On the one hand, it was possible to reliably differentiate between three different types of cancer of the human oral cavity. On the other hand, using the sensor also helped distinguish the three cancers from a non-cancerous oral cell line, the team said.

Oral cancer classification works reliably

"By evaluating VOC-triggered neural responses of cancers and non-cancers, we show that classification of oral cancer based on the response of olfactory neurons is sensitive and reliable," the researchers report.

It took 250 ms to detect the cancer

Another advantage is that this brain-based approach to identifying cancer produces results very quickly, with a detection time of just 250 ms, according to the researchers.

The team also demonstrated that the new cancer diagnostic method is effective at modifying chemical environments that mimic natural conditions.

“Our brain-based cancer detection system includes a new VOC sensor method that will stimulate the development of other pioneering technologies for non-invasive cancer detection,” summarize the experts. (as)

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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Alexander Farnum, Michael Parnas, Ehsanul Hoque Apu, Elyssa Cox, Noël Lefevre, et al. : Exploiting insect olfactory neural circuits for the non-invasive detection of human cancer; in: BioRxiv (published 05/25/2022), BioRxiv

Important Note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.