Ants Could Be Used in Detecting Cancer Cells in Humans Due to Their Advanced Sense of Smell

Ants Could Be Used in Detecting Cancer Cells in Humans Due to Their Advanced Sense of Smell

You probably found out by now that ants are fantastic creatures. Those diligent little insects smaller than a nail are notorious for a few things, such as having superhuman strength, being able to swim, living the longest from all insects, and so on.

But we might have to add another incredible trait to the long list of incredible things that ants can do: being able to smell cancer when it exists in humans. Yes, you’ve read that right!

Ants have a developed sense of smell

Daily Mail reveals that researchers from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) discovered the unusual smelling capabilities of the ant species known as Formica fusca. The ant has a very developed sense of smell that could provide help one day in spotting cancer cells in humans if it’s given the right training.

Although the trials were limited, they’ve shown that the ant species in question was capable of spotting cancerous cells from those that are healthy by using its smell. 

The research team stated as quoted by Daily Mail:

Ants therefore represent a fast, efficient, inexpensive, and highly discriminant detection tool for detection of cancer cell volatiles,

Our approach could potentially be adapted to a range of other complex odor detection tasks including the detection of narcotics, explosives, spoiled food, or other diseases, including malaria, infections, and diabetes.

Another official statement writes, as the same source quotes:

With regards to cancer detection, our research will now aim to widen the range of cancer-related odors that can be detected by ants, moving to the detection of body-emitted odors.

Don’t just open the champagne just yet, as more clinical tests are needed to confirm that the ants’ unexpected ability can really be used in medical ways.

The new study was published in iScience.


Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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