• Tue. Nov 30th, 2021

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Genetically engineered bacteria could heal us from inside our cells

Billions of years ago, bacteria began living inside other cells and carrying out essential functions. Genetic engineering could create new types of these ‘endosymbionts’

Health 27 October 2021

Bacillus subtilis

Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Bacillus subtilis

STEVE LOWRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Bacteria have been genetically engineered to enter and live inside mouse immune cells, where they released proteins that altered the behaviour of those cells. The work is a first step towards creating “artificial endosymbionts” that could live inside some human body cells and do everything from guiding the regeneration of damaged tissues to treating cancer.

“That’s the vision in the long run,” says Christopher Contag at Michigan State University.

Several other groups are also developing artificial endosymbionts, which they say could allow us …