Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced that they have developed a series of basic computer components such as sensors, memory switches and circuits using bacteria commonly found in the human gut. These components allow bacteria to sense, remember, and respond to chemical signals in the gut. In the future, these programmed bacteria will give doctors the ability to perform non-invasive diagnosis and treatment of intestinal inflammation or cancer. Related papers were published in the recently published Journal of Cell.
Timothy Lu, an associate professor of computer science and bioengineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was in charge of the study, said that some scientists have previously conducted similar experiments with E. coli, but this strain has less in the human intestines and the value of use is not high. Therefore, they chose a more common bacterium, Bacteroides variabilis. This bacterium is not only common but also stable in the intestine for a long time.
Christopher Voight, a professor of bioengineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said his team has developed a series of methods to precisely control the expression of bacterial genes, allowing these bacteria to respond to symptoms of intestinal bleeding or inflammation. One is a substance called a recombinant protein that records information in the DNA of bacteria by recognizing a specific DNA address and reversing it. The other is a technique called CRISPR interference that can be used for specific genes. Take control and turn it on or off. The mouse trial of this study was successful, and in the experiment the bacteria in the intestine of the mouse could even remember what food the mice had eaten.
Researchers are currently planning to apply their methods to different types of bacteria. This is because the variety of bacteria in the gut is often different from person to person, which means that a particular bacterium may not be suitable for all patients. In addition, bacteria can be used in genetic kits to create more advanced genetic calculation circuits for non-invasive diagnosis and treatment.
Tom Ellis, of the Center for Synthetic Biology, Imperial College, London, UK, says the new study uses a more common intestinal bacteria in the human body to replace E. coli to make a tool that can be widely used in synthetic biology. Although there is still a long way to go before clinical applications, this research opens up a new possibility. In the near future, with these engineering bacteria that are resident in the human body, we will be able to keep abreast of our physical condition and get proper treatment when the disease appears.
It is no exaggeration that computers are constantly "evolving". Just as we talk about the replacement of traditional PCs with mobile terminals or virtual technologies, synthetic biologists are leaving the traditional computer behind. This time, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ingeniously designed bacteria in the gut to perform complex diagnoses and treatments. This technology not only sounds tall, but also makes the computer that "thinks" in science fiction films a reality. Imagine that as time goes on, the reproduction of bacteria continues to increase, and its computing power can continue to increase. If this technology is finally realized, today's computers will be completely subverted.
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