Locusts are able to detect mouth cancer, says research

Researchers at the University of Michigan, in the United States, found that the brain of locusts is able to recognize gases emitted by three types of cancer cells present in tumors in the mouth. The insects were also able to differentiate samples from patients without cancer.

According to scientists, cancer recognition was done quickly, and quite effectively. The research was published in pre-print only, and has not yet been peer-reviewed by the scientific community.

The test was done by placing electrodes on the locusts’ brains. Then, the samples were released in the insect antenna region, the area where odors are detected. It was observed that samples with cancer triggered different reactions in the insect brain.


It is unknown whether the results would be similar in other types of cancer, and whether the insects would also recognize the cancer in the patients’ urine, breath or sweat. Currently, the test is done with a sample collected with a swab in the patient’s mouth and the diagnosis is made in up to 10 days.

However, the insects used in the experiment do not survive after having their brains opened for the test. One of the main problems with this type of study is the difficulty in applying it in real life.

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