Synthetic biologist Tal Danino had a thought: What if we could create a probiotic, edible bacteria that was "programmed" to find liver tumors?
|Scooped by Graham Player Ph.D.|
Our body is like a complex eco-system and provides a habitat for bacteria and other organisms. In fact 90% of the cells in our body are bacteria cells, not human cells, each containing their own genetic makeup. They provide essential life-support to our physiological processes, and are collectively known as our microbiome which evolves just as we do.
Today it is possible to modify and program the DNA of bacteria cells, and this experimentation is being done. Bacteria can naturally exist and grow inside of tumors. Especially when you consider that tumors may be areas where the immune system has limited access.
So synthetic biologist, Tal Danino, had a left-field thought: What if we could create a probiotic, edible bacteria that was "programmed" to find liver tumors? He created a programmed-probiotic bacteria that would detect particular bacteria inside a liver tumor, and (via programmed DNA) produce a particular color in the urine as a marker for the presence of the tumor. He then went on to program the probiotic bacteria to not only detect the tumor but also to produce therapeutic molecules from within the tumor environment to shrink the existing tumors. His experiments showed that all of this was possible and successful using a mouse-model.
The ability to program bacteria opens up new possibilities and paths of thinking for dealing with cancer and other diseases.