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Your own cells could one day 'spy' on you to track disease

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Scientists from MIT have figured out how to hack living cells to store biological events around them. They modified E. Coli cells to generate so-called retrons -- a type of mutated single-strand DNA -- in response to stimuli like light or chemicals. Those lo-fi "memories" can then be read back to glean useful information using high-throughput DNA sequencing and other techniques. However, it works even better by scaling it up to billions of copies. Once the hacked cells reproduce, new ones start recording the events too, meaning scientists can track changes in an environment over time. The mutations can even be written and erased, meaning they could one day track the progress of a disease from directly inside your body, like a personal, benevolent NSA.

[Image credit: Shutterstock/vitstudio]

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