Research ArticleDiagnostics

Detection of pathological biomarkers in human clinical samples via amplifying genetic switches and logic gates

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Translational Medicine  27 May 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 289, pp. 289ra83
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa3601

You are currently viewing the editor's summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

A little help from our (little) friends

It’s only logical: Translation of diagnostics to home health care or remote settings requires simple methods for measuring markers in complex clinical samples. And living cells—with their ability to detect biomolecules, process the signal, and respond—are logical choices as biosensing devices. The recent buzz on the human microbiota has expanded our view of bacteria beyond infectious enemies to metabolic buddies. Now, Courbet et al. refine that view further by engineering bacteria to serve as whole-cell diagnostic biosensors in human biological samples.

Although whole-cell biosensors have been shown to serve as analytical tools, their quirky operation and low signal-to-noise ratio in complex clinical samples have limited their use as diagnostic devices in the clinic. The authors engineered bacterial biosensors capable of signal digitization and amplification, multiplexed signal processing (with the use of Boolean logic gates), and months-long data storage. As a proof of concept, the “bactosensors” detected pathological levels of glucose in urine from diabetic patients, providing a framework for the design of sensor modules that detect diverse biomarkers for diagnostics.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Translational Medicine