Scientists have created a yogurt drink that may one day detect a range of illnesses from stomach ulcers to cancer by changing the color of your fecal matter.
The key ingredient in the E. Chromi probiotic drink is a color-coded designer bacteria made from E. coli and works by interacting with the food in your stomach that turns your stools into a variety of hues depending on your ailment and how sick you are.
While researchers have so far only suggested that the drink could be used to track the progress of E. coli, they believe that one day it can diagnose conditions like colorectal cancer, worms, stomach ulcer and salmonella just by people looking into the toilet to check the color of their remains.
British designers Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and James King developed the disease detecting drink by first genetically engineering bacteria to secrete a variety of colored pigments that are visible to the naked eye.
The team had designed standardized sequences of DNA, known as BioBricks, and inserted them into E. coli bacteria. They explain that each BioBrick part contains genes selected from a range of existing organisms that allows the bacteria to produce colors like red, yellow, green, blue, brown or purple.
They explained that by combining these with other BioBricks, bacteria could be programmed to do things like indicate whether water or food is safe to drink or eat by turning red if they sense a toxin.
While the project is still in its preliminary stage, Ginsberg and King, have been presenting the public with a display case containing what appears to be six dried multi-colored stool samples lined up next to each other.
The scientists explain that when the E. chromi bacteria reacts with the certain enzymes, proteins, and chemicals in your gastrointestinal tract, they will produce certain colors, making diagnosis as simple as reading a color chart.