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In a new report, scientists have created a worm that aids in finding cancer cells from a sample of a human. Its official name, Caenorhabditis Elegans, is a one-meter-long worm and fits in a handheld chip.


The “worm-on-a-chip” is placed in the middle

According to doctors, healthy human cells get placed on one end of the chip with lung cancer cells going on the opposite side. From there, the worm locates the cancer cell. Scientists have conducted studies that show “about 70 percent of the worms move towards the cancer,” says Shin Sik Choi, a biotechnology scientist that helped develop the system in South Korea. In comparison, Paul Bunn, a researcher at the University of Colorado, says, “dogs can sniff out people who have lung cancer. This study is another step in the same direction.”

Shin Sik Choi believes smell is a safe idea as to why these worms work. Using similar traits to dogs, scientists link the odor smell of cancer cells to why these worms are effective. Choi brings up the idea of experimenting if the worms could detect cancer from urine, saliva, or blood samples. Doctors could use such a test to screen for lung cancer without having to sample cells from the patient. Scientists say this finding could have better benefits than a regular CT scan. “The more CT scans you get, the more radiation you get,” says Bunn.


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