Mice Sniff Out Landmines: About 70 countries have landscapes filled with hidden landmines. These unexploded bombs are difficult to detect and wreak havoc and death to residents. Currently, metal detectors, radar, magnetometers and sniffer dogs are used to search for them. Now researchers are proposing an inexpensive solution: genetically modified mice who are 500 times more sensitive than their natural counterparts to the smell of explosives from mines.
Molecular neurobiologist Charlotte D'Hulst of Hunter College in New York used genetic modification to give mice odor-sensing neurons with a TNT-detecting receptor. Upon encountering the overwhelming odor of explosives, a mouse would have a seizure, D'Hulst told Technology Review. "We can only hope that our mice will show a seizure behavior … upon detecting landmines. We won't have to work with food rewards; we will probably use some radio signaling system. A chip implant may track, report, and record their behaviors." The researchers still need to test the mice in behavioral studies. via Technology Review