After a little training, our honeybees can be as effective as a PCR test in identifying SARS-CoV-2. Explanation.
It is an exciting study published by scientists in the journal “The Company of Biologists” that shows that honeybees (Apis mellifera) can detect certain human diseases, including Covid-19.
which shows that honeybees (Apis mellifera) can detect certain human diseases, including Covid-19. Provided that they are trained to do this little exercise.
“A scent imprint”
The explanation is relatively simple, at least on paper. Scientists explain that any infection or other pathology induces physiological changes in our body. As a result, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) differ between healthy and infected individuals. These VOCs therefore constitute an odor fingerprint that also depends on age, sex, diet, genetic background, metabolic conditions, etc. It is therefore a “signature” specific to each of us.
Diagnosis of diseases
The analysis of this odor print provides a lot of relevant information on the health status of individuals.
However, the current Covid-19 pandemic requires the implementation of rapid tests to make a reliable diagnosis and implement rapid measures (quarantine of infected people and animals, special care, etc.).
Hence the use of animals when tests are not available in some countries. It is known that dogs have been successfully trained to detect people infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Similarly, some insects have very strong olfactory capabilities. Some flies can detect cancer in humans and bees can detect tuberculosis.
Now these same bees can distinguish Covid-19 infected mink from healthy mink. And this is thanks to the development of Pavlovian reflex conditions. The bees “smell” the virus. They are taught to recognize it. And the results are astonishing: the reliability is about 92%!
This allows scientists to consider applying these bee “tests” to populations far from traditional testing centers.
In any case, the study of the Dutch researchers is hopeful for the evolution of Covid diagnostics. But not only that.
Bees can be trained to identify SARS-CoV-2 infected samples 🐝
Check out the #OpenAccess Research Article from Evangelos Kontos, @ariasamimi86, @WimvanderPoel1 and colleagues @insectsense here on BiO: https://t.co/dZ73eJot8O https://t.co/2Wpgqtvb1y
— Biology Open (@BiologyOpen) May 6, 2022