University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers say they were able to use phage therapy in mice to treat alcoholic liver disease.This form of therapy involves using viruses to destroy bacteria.
"We not only linked a specific bacterial toxin to worse clinical outcomes in patients with alcoholic liver disease, we found a way to break that link by precisely editing gut microbiota with phages,"senior author Bernd Schnabl, MD, professor of medicine and gastroenterology at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the National Institutes of Health-funded San Diego Digestive Diseases Research Center, told a news portal.
Almost 75 per cent of patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis ( the most serious form of alcohol-related liver disease) reportedly die within three months of diagnosis. While corticosteroids are commonly used to treat he health issue, they are not always effective.
Experts say early liver transplantation is currently the best way to tackle the medical condition. However, this option is not available to many patients and is not available in many medical centres. In the United States (US), there are reportedly on 8,000 liver transplants annually.
Researchers say alcohol can damage the liver cells and reduce the natural gut antibiotics, which can cause bacterial growth in the liver and cause the alcohol-induced liver disease to worsen.
"Based on this finding, we believe detection of the cytolysin-gene in faeces from patients with alcoholic hepatitis could be a very good biomarker for liver disease severity and risk of death," Schnabl told a news portal. Adding, "One day we might be able to select patients for tailored therapies based on their cytolysin status."
To test how effective phage therapy could be to treat this condition, the team used different phages from sewage water that could fight cytolysin-producing E. faecalis. When mice were treated with these phages, the team discovered alcohol-induced liver disease was eradicated. "This phage therapy has only so far been tested in mice, and a clinical trial will be required to test the safety of this approach, and validate our findings in patients with alcoholic hepatitis," Schnabl told a news portal.
Further research is needed to fully explore this potential treatment. The study's findings were originally published in the journal Nature.
Picture Courtesy: Google Images