A team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that locusts can detect cancer by smell. This was reported on the official website of the research institution.
In the course of the work, specialists surgically opened the insect’s brain and inserted electrodes into certain areas (responsible for smell). Also, the institute staff grew three different types of cancerous and healthy cells from the human oral cavity. They then let the locusts sniff the samples using a scent-distributing device.
It turned out that when an insect catches certain types of cells, it reacts differently. On the electrogram of the brain, the scientists saw clearly defined changes in the brains of the subjects, which suggests that the locust is indeed able to recognize cancer using its sense of smell. As specified, this is the first such case of using insects to identify cancer. Despite the fact that in terms of the functioning of the body, the locust is already dead and will not be able to live after the tests, it does not feel pain, so it does not need anesthesia.
In future studies, the researchers want to study in detail which receptors on test subjects’ antennae allow them to detect cancer, in order to create synthetic versions of them and not use live locusts.