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Diagnose crohn’s with an engineered organism

Researchers have engineered a bacterium with the necessary capabilities for diagnosing a human disease.

The engineered strain of the gut bacterium E. coli senses pH and glows when it encounters acidosis – an acidic condition that often occurs during flare-ups of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as colitis, ileitis and Crohn’s disease.

Researchers at the University of Colorado used a Rice University-created organism in a mouse model of Crohn’s disease to show acidosis activates a signature set of genes.

The corresponding genetic signature in humans has previously been observed during active inflammationin Crohn’s disease patients.

Study co-author Jeffrey Tabor, whose lab engineered the bacterium, said it could be reprogrammed to make colours that show up in the toilet instead of the fluorescent tags used in the CU School of Medicine experiments.

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Image credit | Science Photo Library

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