Scientists in Japan are using roundworms to smell out 15 types of cancer

Scientists in Japan are using roundworms to "sniff out" cancer in new research.

Researchers have created an inexpensive biological kit, which they claim can detect 15 different types of the disease.

The research was inspired by dogs having the ability to use their noses to detect everything from melanomas to lung, breast and bladder cancer.

The new kit costs under $90 (£70) and, fortunately, the patient won't need to come into contact with the roundworm or nematode – they will just have to produce a urine sample, reports Sputnick News .

Dr. Takaaki Hirotsu, president of Hirotsu Bio Science, the company which came up with the test, explained the methodology behind their new kit.

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Dr Hirostu said: “The method is based on the motor reaction of nematodes to chemical stimulus – they move toward the smell that they like and away from the one they don’t like. This is a completely new, previously unknown type of analysis for oncology.

"On the basis of whether the worms move closer to the patient’s urine or not, we can determine if they have cancer.”

He added: “The basis was the assumption that if dogs can distinguish people with cancer from those without it, nematodes, whose sense of smell is 1.5 times sharper than that of a dog, and who are able to detect the subtlest of odours undetectable by many devices, will also be able to distinguish a sick person from a healthy one."

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Testing showed that the nematodes congregate around the urine of sick people, while staying away from a sample of healthy person, the research claims.

The studies have been carried out across 17 facilities across Japan over the past two years.

According to the company, their testing method is not only capable of detecting more than a dozen different types of cancer , but of doing so earlier than conventional tests.

The method has an overall estimated accuracy rate of 86.8%, including an 85% accuracy rate for early detections.

Medical centres across Japan started using Hirotsu's tester in January, with orders from 500 more facilities across the country.

Interest has also been strong from abroad, the bioscientist said, clarifying that these are “not only orders” for the device, “but also proposals for joint research.”

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