A man who teaches rats to sniff out land mines & tuberculosis - from Bart Weetjens:
Rats have more genetic material allocated to olfaction than any other mammal species. They are extremely sensitive to smell. Moreover, they have the mechanisms to map all these smells and to communicate about it.
Last year about 6,000 recorded people walked on live landmines .... worldwide almost 1.9 million died from tuberculosis as a first cause of infection.
TB can be diagnosed based by the volatiles exuding from patients.
The rats only need 200th of a second to discriminate the scents. (LA note: I want a Reality TV show - professional noses, rats, dogs, on your mark, get set, go!)
A microscopist can process 40 samples in a day, a rat can process the same amount of samples in 7 minutes only.*
Can you imagine the potential offspring applications, environmental detection of pollutants in soils, customs applications.... and so on.
- Bart Weetjens
(*Lurana says: I'm not for unemployment, I am for people being employed in more meaningful work. Let the rats do this sniffer work.)
Like any hero, simple - give it a food reward. Gentle.
more here at TED Series
Hero Rats Headquarters link here
APOPO Detection Rats Technology click here
Adopt-a-Rat click here
photos: courtesy of TED and APOPO
A Shout Out to Deb I for sending this info my way