For the past 10 years or so, synthetic biologists have, like biological hackers, drastically transformed bacteria. For example, some bacteria only use light to announce their discovery as long as they sense a specific signal in the environment.
This cool technology has a broad application prospect in medicine. Take gastrointestinal diseases for example. At present, to determine whether patients have internal bleeding, the most common method is endoscopic techniques. However, this often requires the patient to be put into an anesthetic state, which is not very convenient. If the bacteria can be tested for bleeding in the body, it will undoubtedly greatly simplify the entire testing process.
▲ Prof. Timothy Lu, the chief person in charge of this study, brought in new black technology (Source: MIT)
But this has two bottlenecks in technology. First, it is obviously unrealistic for patients to swallow large amounts of bacteria. Second, even if these bacteria enter the body, they cannot exchange information with the outside world.
To overcome these two major bottlenecks, researchers decided to create a "bacterial pill." It can safely send bacteria into the body to detect abnormalities, and it can also provide real-time feedback to humans.
▲ Researcher loads probiotics into "pills" (Source: MIT officialvideoScreenshot)
This sounds like a sci-fi scene that has become a reality under the hands of MIT scientists. They put probiotics on a sensor and wrapped a semi-permeable membrane outside – so that small molecules in the environment can touch the bacteria through the membrane, while bacteria are not Gastric acid digestion. According to the design, if the bacteria detects bleeding in the bowel, it will glow.
At the same time, the researchers designed this sensor to evaluate the light intensity generated by bacteria and transmit the data to the body via wireless signals. As long as there is a smart phone, you can get this data.
▲ Through the mobile phone, researchers can get signals from bacteria (Source: MIT official video capture)
"By combining biosensors with low-power wireless electronics, we can detect bio-signals almost in real-time and bring new applications for human health," said Professor Lu.
In a mammalian experiment, the potential of this technology has been verified. They first entered the blood in the pig's body and then let them take "bacterial pills." Studies have shown that these bacteria can clearly distinguish whether the stomach is the blood or the control buffer.
▲An animal experiment shows that bacteria can effectively distinguish whether there is blood in the stomach (Source: "Science")
“The focus of this research is to integrate the detection capabilities of bacteria with low-energy circuit systems to achieve important health tests,” adds Professor Anantha Chandrakasan, director of the MIT School of Engineering and co-author of the study.
Researchers believe that this tool has unlimited potential in the future. Through the transformation of bacteria, we are able to detect different disease signals. For example, bacteria that detect Crohn's disease and gastrointestinal infections haveDevelopmentIt is about to enter the experimental stage. In addition, we can even detect multiple signals at once by increasing the types of bacteria.
▲"Bacteria Pills" has broad application prospects in the future (Source: Lillie Paquette, MIT)
Maybe in the future, physical examination will only need to swallow one pill and your physiological indicators will appear on the mobile phone. We expect this sci-fi scene to come true soon!
 An ingestible bacterial-electronic system to monitor gastrointestinal health
 Ingestible 'bacteria on a chip' could help resolved disease
This article is reproduced from: Academic latitude and longitude