Bacteriophage treatment for alcohol related liver disease

Researchers from King’s College London and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine conducted an animal study in mice and shown promise of bacteriophage therapy in treating alcohol-related liver disease.

This research is published in journal Nature.

The team discovered that patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis had high numbers of a destructive gut bacterium Enterococcus faecalis, which produced a toxin called cytolysin. This toxin is shown to injure liver cells. Enterococcus faecalis is normally found in low numbers in the healthy human gut.

To investigate the potential for phage therapy, the researchers isolated four different phages that specifically target cytolysin-producing Enterococcus faecalis. When they treated the mice with these, the bacteria were eradicated, and alcohol-induced liver disease was abolished. Control phages that target other bacteria or non-cytolytic E. faecalis had no effect.

With the rise of multidrug-resistant infections, people are looking at alternatives to antibiotics. Bacteriophages are viruses that kill bacteria. These bacteriophages are naturally occurring and offer a promising alternative to antibiotics. However, much research is needed to establish their safety and efficacy in clinical practice. The current study show promise of using phage therapy to alter the gut microbiome in cases with alcoholic liver disease.