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Biologists Program E. Coli To Patrol For Pathogens

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the working-on-method-to-send-it-back-in-time-to-kill-john-connor dept.

Medicine 38

MTorrice writes "When hospital patients develop nasty, antibiotic-resistant infections, the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is often the culprit. In a new approach to killing the pathogen, researchers genetically modified harmless Escherichia coli bacteria to detect and destroy P. aeruginosa. The E. coli spot a specific chemical released by the pathogen and then secrete a toxin to kill it (abstract)."

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38 comments

stay frosty! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44199475)

frossty!

What could (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44199505)

go wrong?

Re:What could (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44199593)

What could go wrong? You're worried about the wrong thing, my co-cowardly friend! Just think if somebody did invented machines capable of doing thousands, millions, or even billions of calculations a second. Then connect vast numbers of them together in some sort of network where information could be sent and received. We'd be one coding mistake, just one little "0" replaced with a "1" and BAM! Sentient calculating machines hell bent on destroying humanity.

My very first thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44199611)

What Could Possibly Go Wrong???

Toxin (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | about 9 months ago | (#44200673)

Bacteria can share DNA [wikipedia.org] with other bacteria. (I don't know if it applies here, but I don't know that it doesn't) If the DNA for this toxin jumps to a different strain of bacteria (say... Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and becomes an infection... We need to ask what this toxin does to human tissue. If it isn't harmless, we could be building a drug resistant, toxin spewing bacteria!

That's one thing that could go wrong.

(No, I didn't read the article. I'm just assuming it doesn't cover this eventuality.)

The Time has come.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44199551)

Begun The Bacteria Wars has.....

Re:The Time has come.. (4, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 9 months ago | (#44199619)

Bacteria have been having their own wars since before humanities time. So have fungi, plants, animals....

Here we are (hopefully) harnessing it for our own safety.

Re:The Time has come.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44199805)

Just wait until they realize we are playing them against each other, then they will join forces against us and rule the world....they just don't realize they already out number us 10 to 1 at the cellular level in our own bodies.

Re:The Time has come.. (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#44199839)

Why would (most) of the bacteria in our bodies want to disrupt the sweet gig they've got?

We work our fool polycellular asses off trying to maintain nice, stable, internal conditions, complete with nutrients and an immune system with a vested interest in kicking out the troublemakers...

You aren't going to find a better deal clinging to a rock somewhere.

Re:The Time has come.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44199897)

Sadly, victors of war and strife are more resilient.
Cooperation is the most energy efficient path though.
So most living systems swing between extremes of war and cooperation.

Re:The Time has come.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44199851)

we have been since the discovery of penicillin

Re:The Time has come.. (1)

lightknight (213164) | about 9 months ago | (#44200399)

And one day, for bio-warfare. Much like we do with some dolphins...

Re:The Time has come.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44201267)

I don't think dolphins have been used in the field of antibiotics, yet, but I'd love to see your proposals.

Re:The Time has come.. (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 9 months ago | (#44201295)

I was wondering about this recently, if we "borrowed" penicillin's bacterial fighting chemicals, and are now facing rising resistance, then the penicillins are being exposed to the resistant bacteria, so are they being overwhelmed or are they adapting and can we borrow another lot of new antibiotics from them?

Re:The Time has come.. (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 9 months ago | (#44204451)

Well, penicillin is basically a kind of bread mold, so the bacterial competion it's facing isn't heavily affected by our use of it as a medicine. Less so, in fact, than the soil bacteria that make tetracycline are by our use of *its* antibiotic.

Penicillin is probably more affected by BHA and BHT and various other things that are added to bread to keep it from molding.

Re:The Time has come.. (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 9 months ago | (#44212961)

I thought it might be encountering resistant strains as bacteria will exchange genetic material. So can we artificially bring it into competition with resistant bacteria and see how it responds? I would think (IANAI) that they would be good to work with as they produce chemicals that are tolerated by most people, we should try to make use of their adaptability for our ends. Do different types of bacteria use chemicals against each other when competing? Can we use these as drugs?

Eat Shit & Die (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44199637)

It's amazing how versatile shit bacteria can be.

One strep closer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44199845)

To the zombie apocalypse!

Message from the Department of Irony (1)

Roachie (2180772) | about 9 months ago | (#44199909)

We are going to cover the hospital with e. coli to reduce the number of pathogens.

Was this publicly funded research? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44200077)

- If so, why the fuck am I prompted to pay/log in to download the full text?

- And if so, why the fuck are these parasite website like Springer and ACS still allowed to paywall publicly funded research??

Re:Was this publicly funded research? (1)

Kergan (780543) | about 9 months ago | (#44201169)

- If so, why the fuck am I prompted to pay/log in to download the full text?

- And if so, why the fuck are these parasite website like Springer and ACS still allowed to paywall publicly funded research??

Because you only funded the research, and they're publishing the results?

Or perhaps because they need to pay for staff, keep the website alive, and send prints to the handful of universities. You know, logistics, distribution.

Oh, and they admittedly need to make boat loads of money, too. Publishing is still a great business [falkvinge.net] to be into -- there probably wouldn't be any copyright laws without them.

Whichever it is, methinks it's less noteworthy than public research ending up as patent applications. (Especially when they're filed by drug companies, which rarely fund more than the last round of tests for things that public research has proven to work for all intents and purposes, the patent application, and the marketing.)

By the way, researchers with a sense of decency will post a late draft somewhere on their site. Just google its title:

http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/75839 [mit.edu]

I can hear it now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44200183)

Patient: Hey... You have to do what I tell you, don't you?

Reprogrammed e. coli: That is one of my mission parameters.

Patient: My own E. coli... cool. (aside) Put your foot down.

Pseudomonas a. bacterium: Hey, this guy botherin' you?

Patient: Beat it, douche bag.

Pseudomonas a. bacterium: Fuck you, little dipshit!

Patient: Did you just call moi a dipshit? Grab this asshole, I can't believe it.

(later)

Reprogrammed e. coli: Cover your hospital with me if you want to live.

Umm, this is founded by the us military (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44200189)

Perhabs they want to mak esome weapons too.

http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a494507.pdf

Re:Umm, this is founded by the us military (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44200279)

The military has hospitals too ya know. Perhaps infections in patients coming from field hospitals are is big problem too?

Re:Umm, this is founded by the us military (4, Informative)

Bowling Moses (591924) | about 9 months ago | (#44200541)

The military funds far more than weapons R&D. I've worked on a project to develop insecticides against mosquitoes that was funded by the US military. There are no weapon aspects, it was to protect American troops against diseases (dengue, malaria, etc.) that some species of mosquitoes can spread. The military has funded things that seem off the wall, like marine biology research trying to figure out a why jellyfish light up in the wake of a ship. Naval aviators have found their way back to carriers by following the carrier's fluorescent wake, but the same could be used by an enemy and the Navy wanted a way to make it stop. Didn't work out, but there is some interesting basic research on jellyfish and Green Fluorescent Protein that was produced as a result. The military also funds vaccine and antibiotic research, research into new surgical techniques, prosthetics, renewable energy sources (ie biodiesel), and a lot of other non-weapons research.

Re:Umm, this is founded by the us military (3, Insightful)

kermidge (2221646) | about 9 months ago | (#44200631)

Thanks for listing some of those things. I hadn't heard of the of jellyfish thing - that's neat stuff. The main reason I think it's good to point out what you did is it maybe can help counter the great amount of cluelessness amongst people who don't bother to look into or think about things. We live in a mental land chock full of buzzwords and phrases - nuclear, military, intelligence, cloud, etc., and I think it helps to clarify things.

This bit with the e. coli looks interesting; one has to wonder at just how more usefully it and similar organisms and techniques might could be used.

The MacGyver Microbe (2)

caspy7 (117545) | about 9 months ago | (#44201495)

Dude, E. Coli is like the Raspberry Pi of bacteria.

Any moment (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 9 months ago | (#44201789)

Any moment it will pull out a bottle of bleach and a chewing gum paper to make explosives with your stomach acid. It will then commence to make an aeroplane out of your intestines and fly out to bomb your house so it can free it's friends.

Reinvention of the wheel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44202207)

Practially the same trick has been in use for quite some time, using virusses (phages) instead of E. Coli. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phage_therapy.

Selective herbicides and insecticides, maybe...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44203387)

Maybe they could use this technology for selective herbicides and insecticides
by making it respond only to substances produced by the targeted species.
Put them into a spray containing the E. Coli plus nutrients...

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