As much progress as the medical industry has made with patient imagining via technological advancements, there is still much inside the human body we do not have access to and that we cannot see.
Healthcare and the human body are experiencing an eye-opening wave of ingenuity as scientists have finally designed a way to see more from inside the body.
What is bacteria made in a lab doing to help the human species? A lot. Scientists have found a way to engineer bacteria to reflect sound waves, producing a sonar-like behavior you are familiar with submarines or dolphins.
How does the therapeutic bacteria work?
Scientists inject the bacteria into the human body. The bacteria sinks down like a submarine and sends out its sonar-like waves to project an image of what is around it (likely inside of the gut or brain, areas that doctors cannot see into easily).
What do the bacteria detect?
The engineered bacteria can reflect to controllers images of tumors or of devices and implants that surgeons have placed to cure a patient and to which they have no easy monitoring access.
Why are the bacteria peering into the gut?
The gut is only recently gaining the attention the body needs it to get. So much goes on in the gut that both patients and physicians are unaware of. Some scientists refer to the gut as another brain, as it is responsible for so many of the body’s systems and functions.
By sending bacteria into the belly, researchers and physicians can get a completely different and holistic picture of what is going on inside the patient.
Already, “good” bacteria are being ingested by the patient as probiotics. The “good” bacteria combat common gut conditions, such as IBS.
The therapeutic, lab-engineered bacteria take probiotics to a whole new level. They enter the gut, take images (through sound waves) of what is around them, and report to relevant personnel what is going wrong or right in the belly, what abscesses are present, where disruptions are occurring.
The communication enabled through the new technology opens an entirely new dialogue in the health and awareness and of our own bodies.
How exactly does the sound wave technology work?
By filling protein structures within water-dwelling bacteria with gas, bacteria can stay afloat. These gas-filled structures, coined gas vehicles, are earning their comparison to mini (really mini) submarines due to their buoyancy and ability to stay afloat long enough to gather imaging.
Scientists are trying to teach a popular probiotic bacteria, E.Coli, to make gas vehicle on its own to give itself the stability it needs to collect important information from inside its organism of interest.
A work in progress
So far, the lab bacteria have been engineered, but scientists are still working to find a way to communicate with them effectively and consistently.
Where will the project go?
Taking images inside the human body and gathering important information is not only incremental to patient health, but to our understanding of the fascinating inner working of the human body. Technology and scientists who adapt it to current investigative queries are breaking through significant unknowns in the medical industry and helping in making our lives healthier, longer lasting and better understood.
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