BOFFINS TRAIN FLIES TO SNIFF BOMBS!

Midweek Sport - - NEWS - By RUTH LUM­LEY

A FLY’S sense of smell could be used in new tech­nol­ogy to de­tect drugs and bombs.

Brain bof­fin Prof Thomas Nowotny, from the Univer­sity of Sus­sex, found the “nose” of a fruit fly can iden­tify odours from il­licit drugs and ex­plo­sives almost as ac­cu­rately as the smell from wine.

The in­sects are nat­u­rally at­tracted to wine be­cause it smells like their favourite food – fer­ment­ing fruit.

The study, pub­lished in Bioin­spi­ra­tion and Biomimet­ics, brings sci­en­tists closer to de­vel­op­ing elec­tronic noses – or e-noses – that repli­cate the ol­fac­tory sense of an­i­mals.

E-noses will be more sen­si­tive and faster than com­mer­cially avail­able prod­ucts which are typ­i­cally based on metal-ox­ide sen­sors and are very slow com­pared with a biological nose.

Prof Nowotny said: “Dogs can smell drugs and peo­ple have trained bees to de­tect ex­plo­sives.

“Here we are look­ing more for what it is in the nose – which re­cep­tors – that al­lowan­i­mals to do this.

“In look­ing at fruit flies we have found that un­fa­mil­iar odours, such as from ex­plo­sives, were not only recog­nised but broadly recog­nised with the same ac­cu­racy as odours more rel­e­vant to a fly’s be­hav­iour.

“The long-term goal of this re­search di­rec­tion is to recre­ate an­i­mals’ noses for tech­ni­cal ap­pli­ca­tions.”

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