Microscopic nematode taught to sniff out cancer

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists want to use microscopic nematode worms that can sniff out lung cancer to create life-saving devices.

The ability of nematode worms to detect cancer cells could be the basis for devices for diagnosing cancer at an early stage.

Tiny worms, also known as nematodes, Caenorhabditis elegans , are attracted to certain odors, including those emitted by lung cancer cells.

In a new study presented at the American Chemical Society meeting in San Diego, scientists have developed a test kit consisting of a small chip.

Several nematodes were located in the central chamber of the chip, and one well was located at the opposite ends. Cancer cells were placed in one of the wells, and normal cells were placed in the other.

The results showed that the worms wriggled towards the cancer cells with an efficiency of about 70%. The researchers believe the performance could be improved by using worms with “memory” of cancer-specific odors that have been previously exposed to cancer cells.

What will happen next?

Now scientists are working on optimizing the device. Next, they want to use samples of urine, saliva, or perhaps even exhaled air instead of cancer cells.

“We will be collaborating with doctors to see if our methods can detect lung cancer in patients at an early stage,” the scientists write.

Early diagnosis is critical for a favorable outcome of the disease. When cancer is detected early, treatment is more likely to be successful and chances of survival increase.

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