Fruit flies' 'sense of smell' can help detect drugs, bombs

A new study has revealed that 'sense of smell' in the fruit flies can help in detecting drugs and bombs.

Fruit flies' 'sense of smell' can help detect drugs, bombs

Washington: A new study has revealed that 'sense of smell' in the fruit flies can help in detecting drugs and bombs.

Researchers from University of Sussex found that the "nose" of fruit flies could identify odors from illicit drugs and explosive substances almost as accurately as wine odor, which the insects are naturally attracted to because it smells like their favorite food, fermenting fruit.

Professor Nowotny and his collaborators recorded how 20 different receptor neurons in fruit flies responded to an ecologically relevant set of 36 chemicals related to wine (the wine set) and an ecologically irrelevant set of 35 chemicals related to hazardous materials, such as those found in drugs, combustion products and the headspace of explosives (the industrial set).

The study brings scientists closer to developing electronic noses (e-noses) that closely replicate the sensitive olfactory sense of animals. Researchers hope that such e-noses would be much more sensitive and much faster than the currently commercially available e-noses that are typically based on metal-oxide sensors and are very slow, compared to a biological nose.

The study is published in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics. 

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