Bees are amazing little creatures that provide us with so much -- from
honey to pollination. Now we can add one more thing that they can do for
us. Portuguese scientist and designer Susana Soares has created a Honey Bee (Photo by Bob Peterson/Creative Commons via Wikimedia)device that allows
specially trained bees to detect cancer in a human based on the scent of
their breath. Remarkably, it only takes a mere ten minutes to train the
bee to perform this valuable service.
Scientists had previously discovered that honey bees have an amazing sense of smell -- one that would put the best tracking dogs in the world to shame. They can detect the correct molecules out of parts per trillion. The bees can be trained to detect the specific biomarkers in exhaled breath for tuberculosis, diabetes, and cancers of the skin, lungs, and pancreas, among others.
The bees are trained by being exposed to different odors and then being rewarded with a nectar made of water and sugar. The bees will remember that smell and associate it with reward for the rest of their lives. Even in humans smell is the sense that most strongly associates with memory.
Cancer Detection Device With Bees (You Tube Image)
The invention consists of a two-chambered glass dome-like apparatus. The bees are placed inside the larger of the two chambers. A patent breathes into the smaller chamber of the device and the bees move into diagnostic mode. If they detect the illness in question they fly into the small diagnosis chamber.
Sources: Mail Online, Huffington Post, Oddly Even