Clearing up a landmine infested area is not exactly the dream job for most folks, considering the copious amount of risk involved while you are at work with no guarantee that you will be able to return home alive. Well, getting robots to do the job is an avenue worth exploring, but what happens when one could enlist the help of nature? Lab mice that have been genetically engineered by humans to sniff out TNT explosives could be the future, where such mice tout a sense of smell 500 times better than normal at detecting DNT, which is a chemical cousin of TNT, and they could be trained to alert their human masters to the presence of landmines, perhaps by falling down in an epileptic seizure.
Charlotte D’Hulst, a bioengineer at Hunter College, City University of New York, said, “Whatever their behavior is going to be, we think we will be able to track their change in behavior using a sort of microchip implanted under their skin that would indeed wirelessly report back to a computer.”
Since mice are smaller, a whole lot more affordable than employing a human and are a snap to breed, a bunch of these could get the job done simultaneously in a pack – and even better is the fact that mice are too light to trigger a landmine even if they are stepping on one. Known as the MouSensor Project, it is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health.