Genetically modified pills are a radical new way to treat rare stomach ailments

Designer bacteria are organisms that have been genetically modified to include a new function to make it do something it does not do previously. Synlogic, a Massachusetts-based start-up,…[recently] announced a new pill that contains these modified organisms that could treat a rare metabolic disease that affects the stomach.

We normally expel the excess nitrogen by [urinating it] out of the body. However, some people can’t process nitrogen fast enough, leading to ammonia levels that are toxic enough to kill the person. The modified bacteria [in the pill] rectifies this by soaking up the ammonia and turning it into arginine, a harmless amino acid.

“Synthetic biotics,” as the company founders call it, are able to perform new and interesting functions that our body cannot normally do and this development could become an alternative to pills and injections.

Swallowing bacteria may seem like a weird concept to some people but, as this development shows, it could lead to better, more targeted, ways of treating diseases.

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