Can Ants Be Trained to Recognize Cancer?
Various studies have demonstrated that ants can be trained to recognize cancer cells. In fact, ants can learn to detect cancer cells in as little as thirty minutes. Scientists trained ants to differentiate between cancerous cells and healthy cells using olfactory conditioning.
Ants are able to differentiate between two cancerous cell lines based on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the samples. The VOCs produced by cancer cells are unique. The researchers used an entomological pin to allow natural diffusion of the odor.
Ants have a remarkable memory. They can recall the scents of nearby colonies for as long as three days. This odor recognition memory is stored in the ant’s brain as short-term memory. Ant memory decreases slowly over time.
Ants can recognize cancerous cells with good accuracy. They are capable of detecting cancer cells up to nine times. The ability of ants to recognize cancer cells is comparable to that of dogs.
Training ants to detect cancer has several advantages. First, ants can be trained to detect cancer more quickly than dogs. Another advantage is that ants can be trained to respond to novel odors. Ants can be trained to detect cancer using olfactory conditioning, which involves pairing an odor with a reward.
The scientists trained ants in three different training paradigms. The first paradigm involved a single odorant with a reward. The second paradigm involved pairing a novel odor with a reward. The third paradigm involved pairing a cancerous cell sample with a sugar solution.