By using the gene-editing technology CRISPR, a team of researchers managed to edit bacteria from the human gut microbiome and turn it into a microscopical tape recorder. These bacteria can record whatever they do and how they interact with the surroundings, making it possible for the development of future treatments.
The biological tape recorder keeps track of all changes in the bacterial environment
This bacterial tape recorder can gather information on all the interactions it performs, without disrupting its environment or causing any changes. By embedding these cells with such capacities, scientists might develop an accurate mechanism of diagnosis, or a way to record all the changes in an environment.
For instance, once a patient swallows this biological tape recorder, it could record all the changes undergone by its digestive tract. This way, the mechanism might be capable of detecting any abnormalities, and of performing a screening that other types of equipment cannot do.
The bacteria already had a predilection towards recording information
The bacteria turned into a tape recorder was E. coli. In order to make it record data, researchers used its immune system, which copies parts of the DNA of the viruses. After the bacteria gets infected with a series of pathogens, it is left with a genetic database of all these viruses. Therefore, it has a complex memory device already embedded.
This is of great help for the development of the tape recorder, as the bacteria is already genetically programmed to have good memory. Actually, this is not the first time when researchers make use of this ability to genetically engineer the bacteria. Recording biological information is a huge scientific breakthrough, as such a therapy might work wonders against a wide range of diseases.
The scientists edited a small piece of DNA in the bacteria, and made it replicate whenever it was exposed to certain signals. This way, these sequences could record any change occurring in the environment which triggered the replication.
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