PerspectiveSynthetic Biology

Illuminating dark depths

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Science  25 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6391, pp. 856-857
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat8658

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The inner workings of human physiology remain one of the final frontiers of science. In particular, the gastrointestinal (GI) microenvironment is incompletely understood. On page 915 of this issue, Mimee et al. (1) have developed an ultralow-power ingestible sensor of various compounds (ingestible micro-bio-electronic device, IMBED) by combining engineered bioluminescent bacteria and microelectronic processing. This has the potential to unlock a wealth of information about the body's structure and function, its relationship with the environment, and the impact of disease and therapeutic interventions.