The first sensor capsule of genetically modified bacteria capable of diagnosing gastric bleeding was produced by researchers at MIT University in the United States. In fact, it is a bacterial "chip" that combines live microorganism sensors with very low power electronics.
The bacterial-electronic sensor transforms the "signal" (ie biological response) of the bacteria into a wireless electronic signal. that can then be read by a "smart" phone. With the help of a special Android app, these data can then be analyzed, reports the Athenian-Macedonian news agency.
Researchers who made the publication in the journal Science said: "We combine modified biological sensors with low-energy radio electronics to detect organic signals in the body and in real time and open up new diagnostic possibilities."
In recent years Synthetic biologists have made great strides in modifying bacteria so that they respond to specific environmental stimuli, such as pollution, or the disease's biomarkers. MIT researchers have modified a strain of known E. coli bacteria to emit light when in contact with the heme, a blood component, in the gastrointestinal tract.
The bacteria, along with the electronics (phototransistors, microprocessors) in an approximately 3.5 centimeter long capsule requiring only 1
Previous experiments were successful in pigs as they tracked down some of the blood in their stomach and on in humans. The capsule can either be used for single use in the future or stay in the stomach for days and weeks and constantly send signals.
Today, when a patient suspects bleeding from a gastric ulcer, he should undergo gastroscopy with an endoscope. The new capsule could make this unnecessary in the future.
Researchers will continue to downsize the sensor while investigating whether it can be used for other gastrointestinal conditions beyond the bleeding. They will also try to incorporate bacteria other than E. coli into the sensor.