STAT+: A yogurt drink instead of a colonoscopy? Study uses engineered bacteria to detect cancer

Dan Worthley, a gastroenterologist and cancer scientist at Colonoscopy Clinic in Brisbane, Australia, does thousands of colonoscopies a year, seeking and destroying precancerous polyps. It’s a practically surefire way to prevent colorectal cancer, but an unpleasant experience for patients. The future, Worthley hopes, will be much less onerous — and he’s developing a technology that, if it works one day, might make the experience more of a piece of cake.

Or, rather, a cup of yogurt — containing engineered bacteria that can detect and deliver a treatment for colorectal polyps or cancer. Worthley and colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Adelaide published results in Science on Thursday that show they are one step closer to that far-off dream. In their paper, the researchers show a proof-of-concept engineered bacterium that can detect cancer DNA in the guts of mice and react to it by…
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