Ants sniffing: cancer screening – Le Journal du Week-end

The experience was already conclusive with dogs, able to identify the presence of cancer cells just by smell. But Baptiste Beckert, the Laboratory of Experimental and Comparative Behavioral Sciences at the Sorbonne University in Paris, is betting on an entirely different animal that also has an unparalleled sense of smell, the ants. He raises thousands of them in his lab and takes care of one species in particular. “It is a species called Formica fusca. It is a species found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. This genus of ants has been described as possessing the most important cognitive abilities among ants,” the scientist learns. In front of our cameras, a researcher is teaching ants to smell the cells of cancer patients. You will feed the ant what you love, sugar. Once it’s released into the arena, “and after a while, you’ll come across the reward by chance. Underneath it, we have the scent we want it to learn. And it will associate that scent very quickly with the reward,” he explains. . Renewing the experiment two to three times, it was no longer a coincidence. The ant perceives the smell directly, even without the presence of sugars. But we must continue to search. And in a few years, the ant could become a means of early detection before MRI or mammography is performed. Another advantage of the ant is that it learns very quickly. Scent recognition takes less than an hour, compared to several months for dogs. TF1 | Reporting by C. Pyle, J. Clouseau, and E. Dubusc

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