Checking the hue of your feces could soon reveal why you are feeling off-color. Gut bacteria in mice have been genetically modified to make colored pigments when they detect the presence of disease. If the mice have a gut disorder, the microbes turn blue.
A similar approach could be used to diagnose inflammatory bowel diseases or colon cancer in people.
At the moment, many gut disorders are diagnosed by putting a camera on a thin flexible tube up the rectum. “People often don’t like that,” says Pamela Silver of Harvard Medical School in Boston. And preparing for the procedure requires fasting and taking strong laxatives.
Silver’s team gave their modified bacteria to healthy mice and to mice that had gut inflammation…Some bacteria get passed out of the body in feces, and lab tests revealed the color-change enzyme only in samples from animals with gut inflammation. In these samples, the bacteria changed color from white to blue.
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