Engineering the perfect microbiome

Hey @all

this idea is in my mind for quite a long time or better since I started working with GE bacteria. I was wondering if we could possible implant some genetic engineered bacteria in our guts so that they start producing useful chemicals or deplete microplastics before they enter our bodies. Has somebody ever though about that? I mean creating the bacteria is no problem, but I am more confused about what kind of modifications to the microbiome would make sense?

Maybe more serotonin producing ones? Maybe ones that produce BDNF? I mean we would have to see how peptides like SEMAX or P21 would enter the blood stream once they are produced in the gut. Poor absorbance could be a difficulty...

hm, what do you think?


  • edited November 2018

    The short answer is no.

    I think there are a few very old threads about this but I'm not opening them up.

    Basically, your desires to make things from bacteria, and the bacterial desires, are diametrically opposed. There is no metabolic advantage for them to make any compounds for you. Even in professional industry labs, with antibiotic resistance attached to the modifications they are using, they still need to burn their vats every handful of weeks. Because the bacteria use their gene editing tools to remove stuff that is wasteful to them.

    When asking these questions, it is always good to remember that the bacteria aren't collaborating with you, and they definitely don't work for you. The fact that we benefit is a side effect of us co evolving. You've got your hierarchical chart upside down. Bacteria aren't our pets, we're their petri dishes.

  • Agreed. You'd need some kind of co-trait where the bacteria are benefitted by your mod like resistance to an antibiotic. Assuming that the constant intake of whatever you use isn't harmful in itself.. It still isn't a net benefit in that if you have to take a pill anyhow, why not simply take a dose of the desired compound? Perhaps, there could be a reason for this.. Perhaps its a substance that cant survive the upper gi tract but can be absorbed in the large intestine? Maybe.. But it seems like an overly complicated solution.
  • On the other hand, someone once suggested using a multicellular parasite in a similar way. Maybe a fluke or a worm.. I think this has more potential.
  • Not saying the idea doesn't have merit though.. How about changing the flora and fauna inside the gut of something else? A cow that can eat and break down plastic bags anyone?
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