New lab test uses tiny worms to detect cancer

Researchers from Myongji University in Seoul, South Korea, have created a lab test they say detects cancer by using tiny roundworms, American Chemical Society reported March 20.

The researchers, who presented their findings at a March 20 ACS meeting, said the device involves placing roundworms on a chip in the center of a plate, with cancer cells on one end and a control substance on the other.

The roundworms are attracted to an odor emitted by cancer cells and not normal, healthy cells, the report said. The researchers estimated their "worm-on-a-chip" device was about 70 percent effective, and they are aiming to boost the accuracy and sensitivity by using worms with a memory of cancer-specific odor molecules.

The researchers then plan to  to move the device on to testing for cancer in urine, saliva and exhaled breath, the report said.

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