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PROGRAMMING BACTERIA TO DETECT CANCER (AND MAYBE TREAT IT)

10 WORDS
Bacteria: The bacteria are the simplest and most abundant organisms and can
live on land, water, organic matter or plants and animals.
Tumor: Tissue mass of a body part whose cells suffer abnormal growth and
have no physiological function; these cells tend to invade other parts of the
body.
Algorithms: Ordered set of systematic measures that allows a calculation and
find the solution of such problems.
DNA: Is a molecule that carries most of the genetic instructions used in the
development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms and
many viruses.
Supernova: Its a stellar explosion.
Molecule: Defined and orderly grouping of atoms that constitute the smallest
portion of a pure substance and retain all its properties.
Urine: Secretion yellow liquid which is secreted by the kidneys as a result of
the purification and filtering blood.
Colony (biology): Its a term widely used as a living group organized under a
cooperative basis.
Fluorescent: Body, substance having fluorescence.
Therapeutic: Which it is the branch of health science that deals with the
means and how to apply them in the treatment of diseases, in order to relieve
symptoms or to produce healing.
Summary
Many do not imagine that there are more bacteria in the human body than
stars in the universe. This fascinating universe of bacteria inside of us is an
integral part of our health, and our technology is evolving so rapidly that today
we can program these bacteria like we program computers.
In the diagram presented in the video, actually is a blueprint of the first
bacterial program that the speaker developed. He explained that is possible
like the software print and write DNA into different algorithms and programs
inside of bacteria. This program produces fluorescent proteins rhythmically and
generates small molecule that allows bacteria to communicate and
synchronize. We observed in part of the video a growing colony of bacteria that

have the width of a human hair, but is not possible see that the genetic
program instructs the bacteria to produce small molecules, and these
molecules travel between the thousands of individual bacteria telling them
when to turn on and off. The bacteria synchronize quite well at this scale, but
because the molecule that synchronizes them together can only travel so fast
in larger colonies of bacteria, this result in traveling waves between bacteria
that are far away from each other and is possible see these waves going from
right to left across the screen. This genetic program relies on a natural
phenomenon called quorum sensing, in which bacteria trigger coordinated
and sometimes virulent behaviours once they reach a critical density, a
growing colony of bacteria only begins to glow once it reaches a high or critical
density, the genetic program continues producing these rhythmic patterns of
fluorescent proteins as the colony grows outwards. This experiment is called
the supernova, because it looks like an exploding star. Now, we can program
bacteria to detect and treat diseases in our bodies like cancer. One of the
surprising facts about bacteria is that they can naturally grow inside of tumors
and this happens because typically tumors are areas where the immune
system has no access, and so bacteria find these tumors, and use them as a
safe haven to grow and thrive. An option showed, is the use of probiotic
bacteria which are safe bacteria that have a health benefit, in an experience
made with mice, these probiotics would selectively grow inside of liver tumors.
With the probiotics is possible have the presence of the tumors, and to get
these bacteria to produce a signal that would be detectable in the urine, and so
programmed these probiotics to make a molecule that would change the colour
of the urine to indicate the presence of cancer. Since these bacteria specifically
localize to tumors, also they have been programmed to not only detect cancer
but also treat cancer by producing therapeutic molecules from within the tumor
environment that shrink the existing tumors, all that using quorum sensing.
The ability to program bacteria opens up new horizons in cancer research;
ultimately, the beauty and purpose of this microscopic universe can inspire
new and creative approaches for the future of cancer research.