"Bacterial dirigibles" bring us a steambiopunk disease-fighting future

Despite sounding like something you might think up in the final days of NaNoWriMo, bacterial dirigibles could be the next generation of disease fighters. Rather than creating a drug in a lab to be used as medicine, this new research proposes a way of repurposing bacteria as attack blimps against diseases. The bacteria are engineered to add targeting, sensing and switching capabilities, as well as the ability to drop their medicine cargo.

The researchers' proof of concept was an E. coli bacterium that could home in on infected intestinal cells, produce drugs to fight the other bacteria, and release signaling molecules to prevent an infection from forming or triggering the body's immune response. You swallow the dirigibles in a pill, or get a shot, and the bacteria zooms through your body seeking out and destroying disease.

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