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An ingestible bacterial-electronic system to monitor gastrointestinal health

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Science  25 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6391, pp. 915-918
DOI: 10.1126/science.aas9315

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Using bugs in the gut to detect blood

Bacteria are environmentally resilient and can be engineered to sense various biomolecules. Mimee et al. combined biosensor bacteria with a miniaturized wireless readout capsule to produce a minimally invasive device capable of in vivo biosensing in harsh, difficult-to-access environments (see the Perspective by Gibson and Burgell). The device successfully measured gastrointestinal bleeding in pigs.

Science, this issue p. 915; see also p. 856

Abstract

Biomolecular monitoring in the gastrointestinal tract could offer rapid, precise disease detection and management but is impeded by access to the remote and complex environment. Here, we present an ingestible micro-bio-electronic device (IMBED) for in situ biomolecular detection based on environmentally resilient biosensor bacteria and miniaturized luminescence readout electronics that wirelessly communicate with an external device. As a proof of concept, we engineer heme-sensitive probiotic biosensors and demonstrate accurate diagnosis of gastrointestinal bleeding in swine. Additionally, we integrate alternative biosensors to demonstrate modularity and extensibility of the detection platform. IMBEDs enable new opportunities for gastrointestinal biomarker discovery and could transform the management and diagnosis of gastrointestinal disease.

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