The ingestible bacterial-electronic sensor

[MUSIC PLAYING] My name is Philip and I’m an electrical
engineering. And my name is Mark. I’m a biological engineer. [Phillip] And we’ve put together this system that can sense biomolecules in the gastrointestinal tract. [MUSIC PLAYING] [Mark] So, the first phase is the biological phase where we’ve engineered probiotic cells to sense biomarkers that might be associated with health or disease. And then we take those engineered cells and we deposit them into the device. [Phillip] So once the cells are in the device they’re trapped underneath this semipermeable membrane. And what the membrane does is keep the cells inside but it allows the molecules that we want to sense to diffuse across and activate the cells. Once the cells are activated they start luminescing and then we have a set of detectors underneath the wells that can detect
that luminescence and then a wireless transmitter that can send it outside the
body to a user cellphone. [Mark] Even though right now we’re just at the prototype stage we think it’s a sort of platform technology we demonstrate it with blood
but I think that as many synthetic biologists are kind of continuing to make different biosensors for different molecules they could easily just slot in
into this device in a plug and play manner so eventually the number of molecules you can sense can grow and grow and grow, and we also think that at
one point in time it might be something that someone could ingest similar to
when you go to the doctor you get a blood test, and they look at your blood chemistry or the level of certain biomolecules. This could enable looking at the molecules that are in your gut. And that could be important for managing or diagnosing a bunch of different diseases. And you know, on the electronic side, we’ve shown that we can make it reasonably small and we think that with the further engineering work we would be able to reduce the size maybe by about a
third in terms of the volume to really help drive this towards potential
clinical use.

5 thoughts on “The ingestible bacterial-electronic sensor

  1. Very exciting. We're having an epidemic of gut diseases. Would this be able to detect dysbiosis and analyze the microbiome? Keep up the great work!

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