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Using Gut Bacteria for Drug Delivery

Scientists from the University of California, San Diego, this week report data demonstrating that live gut bacteria from mouse hosts — and potentially humans — can be engineered to deliver a therapeutic payload. Efforts to develop live bacterial therapeutics, which would engraft in the gut and provide persistent beneficial functions to the host, have been unsuccessful thus far because the gut microbiome is hostile to non-native bacterial organisms, making colonization difficult. To overcome this, the researchers engineered Escherichia coli that had been isolated from mouse stool cultures to express functional genes. As reported in Cell this week, the reintroduction of the strains to mice led to perpetual engraftment in the animals' intestines and, importantly, to durable functional changes including ones that affected diabetes progression. The team also showed that human-derived E. coli could be modified for transgene delivery. "If the engineered native bacteria strategy is successfully developed and translated to humans, it has the potential to introduce novel, curative biotherapeutics that improve treatment of chronic diseases without relying on patient compliance," the study's authors write.

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.