|Mantis Shrimps are able to see cancer |
The mantis shrimp (Neogonodactylus oerstedii) has one of the most elaborate visual systems ever discovered. The crustacean’s sixteen eyes contain cells called ommatidia, and these photoreceptors are tuned to ultraviolet frequencies. In its natural habitat, the shrimp uses this ability to more effectively pick out prey hiding in the complex coral reef habitats.
New research from the University of Queensland indicates that the shrimps can "see" cancer. The shrimp's eye is uniquely tuned to detect polarized light. This form of light reflects differently off different types of tissue, enabling cancerous or healthy tissue to be distinguished.
The discovery is not only of academic interest. The researchers has created a camera, drawing on nanotechnology, that can replicate this ability and the new device is undergoing trials. If successful, it could be possible to scan a person and "see" if there is cancerous tissue.