Alcoholic hepatitis is a severe, life-threatening type of liver disease, but not for all patients. Some patients seem to have worse outcomes than others, but what differentiates these patients and how do we treat them? In this episode, Derek and Ellen invite Sam McCright, an MD/PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania studying the microbiome, to talk about a new paper that discovers the potential bacterial culprit behind the most severe cases of alcoholic hepatitis. Even more, these scientists have found new ways to combat these bacteria. Instead of using antibiotics, they use phages, which are like little homing missiles that can target and destroy specific bacteria and are found in sewage. The secret to treating this disease just might literally be a load of crap.
Duan et al. Bacteriophage targeting of gut bacterium attenuates alcoholic liver disease. Nature, 2019. 575(7783):505-511. PMID: 31723265.