Study Reports That Fruit Flies Can Detect Breast Cancer


You may have heard in the past that dogs and honeybees can detect breast cancer, but can fruit flies sense the disease’s odor just like these other members of the animal kingdom? A study published in the Scientific Reports journal is saying that is the case.

Scientists from a variety of institutions, including the University of Konstanz in Germany, used a calcium imaging process to allow the fruit flies’ antenna to illuminate when they recognize a volatile compound profile given off by breast cancer cells. Not only were the researchers able to get the flies to respond to the compounds given off by the cancerous cells, the insects’ antenna had a distinct reaction toward different cell types.

The researchers believe that this is the first step toward developing “electronic noses” that are equipped with biological sensors to help improve breast cancer detection processes.

Cancer-smelling dogs origin
According to The New York Times, a letter published in the Lancet journal in 1989 spoke of a woman who had a mole reviewed by a doctor after her dog began sniffing the mark. The spot turned out to be early-stage malignant melanoma, which in turn inspired researchers to begin testing canines in an effort to further research for the disease.

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