Fruit Flies Genetically Modified to Identify Cancer

Geo Beats
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Researchers from the University of Konstanz in Germany and the University La Sapienza in Italy have genetically modified fruit flies so that their antennae glow when they sense a cancerous cell. Using their hypersensitive sense of smell, the fruit flies are able to pick up on cancer cells that give off a different odor from healthy cells, as well as being able to differentiate between five kinds of breast cancer.

Researchers from the University of Konstanz in Germany and Sapienza University of Rome have genetically modified fruit flies so that their antennae glow when they sense a cancerous cell.

Using their hypersensitive sense of smell, the fruit flies are able to pick up on cancer cells that give off a different odor from healthy cells, as well as being able to differentiate between five kinds of breast cancer.

But insects have no way of signaling if they sense the smell, so scientists genetically modified the fruit flies antennae to glow when they picked up on the smell of cancer cells.

Researchers hope that this new discovery will lead to more advanced ways to diagnose cancer patients.

Giovanni Galizia, lead author of the study from the University of Konstanz is quoted as saying: “The high sensitivity of the natural olfactory receptors, paired with the quickness with which we can generate these test results might lead to the development of a cheap, fast and highly-efficient pre-screening that can detect cancer cells well before we can discover them with the present diagnostic imaging techniques.”

Dogs and honey bees have also been used to successfully identify cancer cells using their heightened sense of smell.

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