Diagnostics in urine: Artificial bacteria recognize cancer

Diagnostics in urine: Artificial bacteria recognize cancer

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Researchers are developing bacteria to identify biomarkers of diseases
Bacteria could help diagnose cancer and other diseases in the future. This is because scientists succeeded in artificially producing bacteria that can detect typical biomarkers of diseases such as diabetes. The researchers report on the “Bactosensors” in the scientific journal “Science Translational Medicine”.

Bacteria track down biomarkers of diseases
A French team of researchers integrated genetically modified Escherichia coli bacteria into a technical system so that signals can be identified that can also be read on diagnostic devices. For this, the bacteria were embedded in hydrogel beads, as the researchers led by Alexis Courbet from the Sys2Diag network of the French research organization CNRS and Alcediag report.

The bacteria would have worked very well, among other things, in diabetes patients with an elevated glucose level in the urine sample. They triggered a change in the color of the sample, which was due to a red fluorescent protein. According to the researchers, the Bactosensors are just as reliable as conventional test sticks. The approach may also be suitable for the detection of typical biomarkers of other diseases. However, the process time is currently a disadvantage compared to other diagnostic methods, as it takes 18 hours until a signal can be measured, Courbet and his team write.

"Biosensors are a large research field in which a lot is invested," Torsten Waldminghaus from the Center for Synthetic Microbiology at the University of Marburg reports in an interview with the news agency "dpa". The results of the French research team could be seen as a test for the method. "It is not yet incredibly impressive compared to that of conventional processes." According to Waldminghaus, a decisive advantage of the biosensors is that they are very sensitive. This is difficult to construct, while the production of the bacteria is easy. "You're multiplying yourself." This reduces costs and enables large-scale operations, such as the detection of explosives on minefields.

Urine sample is enough bacteria to track down cancer
US researchers led by Tal Danino from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge succeeded in producing artificial bacteria for the detection of liver metastases using a urine sample. Metastases in the liver, which are due to tumors in other organs, have a good prognosis if they are discovered early. Unfortunately, they are often diagnosed late in practice because imaging diagnostic methods often only enable the detection of metastases in the advanced stage.

There are measures, such as local surgery or local ablation, that doctors can take if the disease is spread to the liver. Because the liver is able to regenerate itself, these interventions are tolerable. New data show that these patients have a higher survival rate, which is why there is a special need to diagnose metastases in the liver as early as possible, ”explains Sangeeta Bhatia from MIT. If the metastasis is very large, surgery may no longer be possible or useful.

Probiotic bacteria can identify tumors
The MIT researchers also used an E. coli strain as the starting bacterium. They chose the probiotic E. coli Nissle in 1917. This was genetically modified so that it produced the enzyme beta-galactosidase, which cleaved an added substance to form light-emitting molecules. This was easily demonstrated in urine samples. In addition, the researchers knew that some types of bacteria preferentially reproduce in cancerous growths because they offer them food and protection against the immune system.

Experiments with mice that ate artificially modified E. coli bacteria with their food showed that the bacteria passed through the intestinal wall and colonized existing tumors in the liver. Other organs or healthy liver tissue, however, remained free from the changed probiotics. The bacteria then release the enzyme in the liver metastases, which cleaves the injected substance. As intended, a light-emitting molecule was created that could be detected in the urine sample by red coloring.

As the researchers report, the bacteria had also proven to be very reliable in further tests for metastases that were caused by tumors from the intestine, lungs, ovaries or pancreas. No serious side effects of the E. coli infection were observed in the year after the bacterial use in the mice. (ag)

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  1. Sagis

    Bravo, this will have a different idea just by the way

  2. Qaseem

    Very amusing phrase

  3. Vudokazahn

    What an excellent topic

  4. Darin

    What necessary words ... Great, a remarkable idea

  5. Chas-Chunk-A

    Are you, by any chance, not an expert?

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