So starts a recent TED talk by Tal Danino about reprogramming our own body’s bacteria farms to detect cancer. This short but fascinating talk has Tal outlining first his work in making bacteria glow a certain way . The exact methodology for the glowy part is something called Quorum Sensing.
While at first, this just seems like a neat way to get a light show out of some edited bacteria, Tal goes on to outline how this work could be blended with using probiotic (healthy, friendly) bacteria to “sniff out” liver cancer and in lab mice, cause their urine to change color if the liver cancer was present.
Liver cancer remains one of the trickier cancers to detect, especially early on. But if this research is fruitful, pharma reps across the country could end up recommending a new treatment for oncologists to have their patients swallow a probiotic-packed pill and check their urine for changes to identify liver cancer as part of a screening program. This could be an exciting time to be working in the pharmaceutical sales industry as early detection is the best way to fight debilitating diseases like liver cancer.