Sniffer mice have a nose to detect drugs and bombs

Mice are being trained to detect bombers and drug couriers at airports, as an alternative to dogs, X-ray machines and full-body scanners.

Israeli scientists have created a detector, similar to a full-body scanner but with three concealed cartridges each containing eight specially trained anti-terrorist mice.

Researchers claimed that the mice, which work four-hour shifts, are more accurate than sniffer dogs and x-ray machines. Dogs have 756 olfactory receptor genes, while mice have 1120, resulting in a more acute sense of smell.

Air is pumped into the cartridges every four hours so the mice can breathe. When the mice sense traces of drugs they run to a side chamber where they trigger an alarm.

Inventor Eran Lumbroso, whose company BioExplorers, based in Herzeliya, is hoping a larger company will help with the final stages of development, said: "It is as if they are smelling a cat and escaping. We detect the escape."

Eran conceived the mouse-based explosives detector while serving as a major in the Israeli navy. Along with his brother, Alon, he founded the company and built a device that looks much like an average airport metal detector or full-body scanner.

The device was tested last year on 1,000 shoppers in a Tel Aviv shopping mall when the mice successfully picked out 22 people carrying mock explosives.

The idea may be appealing to airport authorities who feel that body scanners invade customers privacy. Security expert Bruce Schneier told New Scientist, "Animals noses are always a good solution, and the mice don"t see you naked."

Via - Orange News

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