Fruit flies can smell cancer tumors in humans

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: fruit flies, cancer tumors, diagnosis

eTrust Pro Certified

Most Viewed Articles
Popular on Facebook
CDC issues flu vaccine apology: this year's vaccine doesn't work!
The five biggest lies about Ebola being pushed by government and mass media
Ultraviolet light robot kills Ebola in two minutes; why doesn't every hospital have one of these?
Tetanus vaccines found spiked with sterilization chemical to carry out race-based genocide against Africans
Biologist explains how marijuana causes tumor cells to commit suicide
Companies begin planting microchips under employees' skin
The best way to help your body protect itself against Ebola (or any virus or bacteria)
NJ cops bust teenagers shoveling snow without a permit
Russia throws down the gauntlet: energy supply to Europe cut off; petrodollar abandoned as currency war escalates
McDonald's in global profit free fall as people everywhere increasingly reject chemically-altered toxic fast food
W.H.O. contradicts CDC, admits Ebola can spread via coughing, sneezing and by touching contaminated surfaces
Top ten things you need to do NOW to protect yourself from an uncontrolled Ebola outbreak
Chemotherapy kills cancer patients faster than no treatment at all
FDA targets Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps for sharing health benefits of coconut oil
U2's Bono partners with Monsanto to destroy African agriculture with GMOs
Why flu shots are the greatest medical fraud in history
Governments seize colloidal silver being used to treat Ebola patients, says advocate
Flu vaccine kills 13 in Italy; death toll rises

(NaturalNews) Fruit flies are able to smell the difference between cancerous and healthy cells, and they can even tell the difference between different strains of cancer, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Konstanz in Germany and the University La Sapienza in Italy and published in the journal Scientific Report.

Animals that sniff out cancer

Because there are fundamental chemical differences between cancerous and healthy cells, the sensitive noses of many animal species are able to detect these differences - potentially making it possible to diagnose cancer significantly sooner than it could be detected by modern screening methods.

For example, a 2011 study found that dogs were able to detect the presence of lung cancer simply by sniffing the breath of patients. Notably, the dogs were able to correctly identify cancer even among patients who had recently smoked or who also suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Current lung cancer screening tests are not able to do this.

In 2013, a Portuguese researcher successfully trained bees to do a "waggle dance" when they were exposed to air exhaled by patients suffering from specific diseases including cancer, tuberculosis and diabetes. She said that it takes only 10 minutes to train bees to do the dance in response to a specific disease. She simply exposes the bees to the odor that she wants them to fixate on, then immediately feeds them sugar. The bees learn to associate the smell with a reward.

In the most recent study, researchers took advantage of the fact that individual odor molecules physically attach to different combinations of nerve cells (neurons) on the antennae of fruit flies.

The researchers genetically engineered fruit flies so that their neurons would fluoresce under a microscope when activated by odor molecules. They then collected samples of the air found above lab samples of healthy human breast tissue and five separate strains of breast cancer cells.

The researchers then wafted each air sample across the antennae of fruit flies while examining the insects through a microscope. They found that each individual strain of breast cells activated a unique pattern among the flies' neurons, indicating the presence of unique combinations of volatile organic compounds.

In essence, the flies were able to "smell" the difference not just between healthy cells and cancerous ones but between each and every cancer strain.

Most sensitive test yet

The neuron imaging technique represents a breakthrough, because it gives much more precise information than an animal such as a dog would be capable of conveying.

"As not only cancer cells can be distinguished from healthy cells, but also subgroups were discernible within the cancer cells, it seems that even different types of breast cancer cells can be differentiated via the antenna of Drosophila," researcher Alja Ludke said.

Lead researcher Giovanni Galizia noted that the fruit flies are capable of detecting subtle differences that are invisible to many modern diagnostic techniques.

"What really is new and spectacular about this result is the combination of objective, specific and quantifiable laboratory results and the extremely high sensitivity of a living being that cannot be matched by electronic noses or gas chromatography," Galizia said.

Although many technical hurdles still need to be overcome, the researchers hope that their findings can lead to new tests to detect cancers earlier than ever.

"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," Galizia said.

Sources for this article include:

Join over four million monthly readers. Your privacy is protected. Unsubscribe at any time.
comments powered by Disqus
Take Action: Support by linking back to this article from your website

Permalink to this article:

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):

Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use OK, cite with clickable link.

Follow Natural News on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest

Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...


Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source:

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.