An ant’s sense of smell is so strong, it can sniff out cancer

Dino Grandini in The Washington Post:

The ant oncologist will see you now.

Ants live in a world of odor. Some species are completely blind. Others rely so heavily on scent that ones that lose track of a pheromone trail march in a circle, until dying of exhaustion. Ants have such a refined sense of smell, in fact, that researchers are now training them to detect the scent of human cancer cells.

A study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences highlights a keen ant sense and underscores how someday we may use sharp-nosed animals — or, in the case of ants, sharp-antennaed — to detect tumors quickly and cheaply. That’s important because the sooner that cancer is found, the better the chances of recovery. “The results are very promising,” said Baptiste Piqueret, a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany who studies animal behavior and co-wrote the paper. He added, however: “It’s important to know that we are far from using them as a daily way to detect cancer.”

More here. (Note: Thanks Ali)