Sniffing Ants: Cancer Screening – Le Journal du Week-end

Experiments with dogs had already been conclusive, being able to identify the presence of cancer cells only by smell. But Baptiste Piqueret, the Experimental and Comparative Ethics Laboratory at the Sorbonne University in Paris, bets on an entirely different animal, endowed with a unique sense of smell, the ant. He raises thousands of them in his lab and is particularly interested in one species. “It is a species called Formica fusca. It is a species that is present throughout the Northern Hemisphere. This genus of ants has been described as having the most important cognitive abilities among ants”, the scientist learns. In front of our cameras, researchers will teach ants to smell cancer patient cells. This will tempt the ant with something it likes, sugar. And once released into the arena, “and after a while, she will come to the reward by chance. And at the bottom, we have the scent we want her to learn. And she will very quickly associate this smell with the reward.” ,” they tell . By renewing the experience two or three times, it is no longer a coincidence. The ant can recognize the smell directly even without sugar. But we must continue the research. And in a few years, the ant may become a means of early detection before an MRI or mammogram is performed. Another advantage of an ant is that it learns very quickly. It takes less than an hour for dogs to recognize the smell, compared to several months. TF1 | Report C.Bayle, J. Clouzeau, E. Duboscq

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