Harnessing insect olfactory neural circuits for detecting and discriminating human cancers


Farnum et al. explore a novel approach to cancer detection by developing an insect olfactory neural circuit-based volatile organic compound (VOC) sensor. The researchers obtain extracellular neural responses from locust antennal lobe neurons exposed to VOCs emitted by oral cancer cell cultures, and employ biological neural computations to generate neuronal response templates. These templates distinguish between oral cancer cell lines and a non-cancer cell line, effectively achieving high classification success. With distinctions provided within 250 ms of stimulus onset, and the incorporation of both biological chemosensory arrays and neuronal computations, this fast brain-based cancer detection system serves as a forward-engineered technology for cancer VOC detection.

This publication is featured in our September 2023 publication review. Check out the Scents of Security: Emerging Olfaction Applications with Biorobots blog.