Diagnosing cancer with help from bacteria

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - 13:30 in Health & Medicine

Engineers at MIT and the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) have devised a new way to detect cancer that has spread to the liver, by enlisting help from probiotics — beneficial bacteria similar to those found in yogurt. Many types of cancer, including colon and pancreatic, tend to metastasize to the liver. The earlier doctors can find these tumors, the more likely that they can successfully treat them. “There are interventions, like local surgery or local ablation, that physicians can perform if the spread of disease in the liver is confined, and because the liver can regenerate, these interventions are tolerated. New data are showing that those patients may have a higher survival rate, so there’s a particular need for detecting early metastasis in the liver,” says Sangeeta Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. Using a harmless strain of...

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