Skip to main content

Broccoli and reprogrammed gut bacteria team up to battle cancer

cancer brocolli singapore research gettyimages 847156142
PRImageFactory/123RF
Everyone knows that vegetables are part of a healthy diet, but very soon a stick of broccoli each day could actively help your body to battle cancer, thanks to some smart genetic modification. That’s based on work being carried out by researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS), who have been working on a new treatment for colorectal cancer, one of the most common cancers found in the developed world. As a new method of fighting this disease, researchers in the NUS Medicine lab aim to transform vegetables and a “bacteria cocktail” into a targeted system, specially designed to seek out and destroy colorectal cancer cells wherever it finds them.

“Our primary goal was to make use of what we already have in our body for disease prevention and treatment; basically reprogramming gut microbes that live with us to convert food into drugs on demand,” Professor Matthew Wook Chang, one of the researchers on the project, told Digital Trends. “In this particular study, we reprogrammed gut microbes to harness dietary vegetable compounds to target colorectal cancer. These gut microbes specifically recognize and bind onto the colorectal cancer cell surface. Following this, the microbes use enzymatic conversion to unlock the latent anticancer properties of the plant-derived compounds to inhibit cancer cell growth and cause the cancer cells to self-destruct.”

In studies, the mixture of engineered probiotics and broccoli extract was shown to be capable of killing over 95 percent of colorectal cancer cells in a dish (although it had no effect on other types of cancer). The combination of probiotics and vegetables reduced tumor numbers by 75 percent in mice suffering from colorectal cancer. Those tumors which did appear were three times smaller than those found in mice which hadn’t undergone the treatment.

“We hope that these microbes could be used as a form of supplement drink or pills that could be taken on a weekly basis for people above a certain age or at risk of colorectal cancer,” Chang said. “The ingested microbes will screen the gut for any abnormal cells and naturally clear them with the help of a vegetable diet. Another application is to have these cells used in post-operative care where patients can take these microbes to help eliminate any remnant cancerous tissues after a surgery to remove the tumor.”

A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Nanoleaf and Razer team up to bring RGB lighting from the keyboard to the wall
Nanoleaf-Canvas

Nanoleaf has forged a name for itself as one of the go-to sources for decorative smart lights. Razer has made a name for itself as one of the go-to companies for high-quality gaming gear. Now the two have teamed up to provide gamers (and smart lighting enthusiasts) with a new type of integration called Nanoleaf x Razer Chroma RGB that brings customized lighting away from just your keyboard and PC and onto your wall.

The service allows gamers to control the Nanoleaf Canvas to sync up with your PC setup. The colors of your Nanoleaf will match those of your PC, but the integration isn't a one-way street. It also provides control of the PC via the smart lights. The touch controls that Nanoleaf provides mean gamers can potentially launch their favorite games or even turn on the PC by pressing on the corresponding light tile.

Read more
Nexxt, Tuya and Microsoft team up to take smart home tech to the next level
jetsons smart home dinner table

Silicon Valley can be weird in that companies will actually collaborate from time to time. Where most tech companies are seriously paranoid — hello, Apple and the “walled garden” strategy -- some companies, after a lot of courting and dating, will actually combine forces to make something better.

That seems to be the case with Nexxt Solutions, one of the more comprehensive manufacturers of smart home security solutions, as well as Tuya, a smart home platform that has injected itself into a wide variety of products and manufacturers, and Microsoft, which you probably know because of that whole Windows thing. They’ve announced they’re teaming up, and the partnership looks to be centered around power and security.

Read more
Digital Trends’ Tech For Change CES 2023 Awards
Digital Trends CES 2023 Tech For Change Award Winners Feature

CES is more than just a neon-drenched show-and-tell session for the world’s biggest tech manufacturers. More and more, it’s also a place where companies showcase innovations that could truly make the world a better place — and at CES 2023, this type of tech was on full display. We saw everything from accessibility-minded PS5 controllers to pedal-powered smart desks. But of all the amazing innovations on display this year, these three impressed us the most:

Samsung's Relumino Mode
Across the globe, roughly 300 million people suffer from moderate to severe vision loss, and generally speaking, most TVs don’t take that into account. So in an effort to make television more accessible and enjoyable for those millions of people suffering from impaired vision, Samsung is adding a new picture mode to many of its new TVs.
[CES 2023] Relumino Mode: Innovation for every need | Samsung
Relumino Mode, as it’s called, works by adding a bunch of different visual filters to the picture simultaneously. Outlines of people and objects on screen are highlighted, the contrast and brightness of the overall picture are cranked up, and extra sharpness is applied to everything. The resulting video would likely look strange to people with normal vision, but for folks with low vision, it should look clearer and closer to "normal" than it otherwise would.
Excitingly, since Relumino Mode is ultimately just a clever software trick, this technology could theoretically be pushed out via a software update and installed on millions of existing Samsung TVs -- not just new and recently purchased ones.

Read more