"Bacteria-on-a-chip" will help diagnose the disease from the inside

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology built the sensor into use, equipped with genetically modified bacteria that can diagnose bleeding in the stomach or other gastrointestinal problems. "Bacteria-on-a-chip" includes sensors of living cells and electronics, ultra-low power, which can transmit the bacterial response to the wireless signal that can be read using a smartphone.

"By combining engineered biological data with a low-power wireless electronics, we can detect biological signals in the body almost in real time, thus obtaining new diagnostic tools", - says Timothy Lu, associate professor of MIT in electrical engineering, computer science and bioengineering.

In the new study, which appeared May 24 Sciennce, scientists have created a sensor that reacts to a heme, a component of blood, and have shown their efficiency in pigs. They have also developed a sensor capable of responding to a molecule that signals inflammation.

Lou and Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the School of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and professor of electrical engineering and computer science Vannevar Bush, were senior authors of the study. Lead author was graduate student Mike Miami and postdoc Philippe Nadeo.

They placed the bacteria into the four holes on a specially designed sensor covered polupropronitsaemoy membrane that allows the passage of small molecules from the environment. Under each well is a phototransistor capable of measuring the amount of light produced by the bacterial cells, and transmit information to a microprocessor, which sends a wireless signal to the nearest computer or smartphone. The data can be analyzed via the Android-application. Sensor, which is a cylinder of length about 1 and 5 inches, requires about 13 microwatts power. Researchers equipped probe 2, 7-volt battery, which, according to their estimates, may actuate the device over 1, 5 months continuous use. They say that the battery can feed the acidic fluid in the stomach.

"The focus of this work is given to the design and integration system that allows you to combine the power of bacterial sensing with ultra-low capacity for the implementation of critical applications for health assessment," says Chandrakasan.

In a nutshell, this sensor allows you to bypass unnecessary procedures. You can simply swallow the capsule, and in a relatively short period of time you will know if the bleeding occurred. In the future, scientists plan to reduce the size of the sensor and examine how long the bacteria can survive in the digestive tract. They also hope to develop sensors for gastrointestinal diseases, not only for the bleeding.