Researchers have just developed a new tool capable of analyzing the microbiome in stool samples, thereby detecting chronic liver disease with 90% reliability. Cirrhosis, NASH, cancer, hepatitis… According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chronic liver diseases affect around 844 million people worldwide and are among the leading causes of death in many rich countries.
If alcohol, obesity, overweight and under-vaccination are singled out as the main factors of chronic liver disease, the difficult diagnosis of these diseases is also to be deplored. Invasive and painful, biopsies are not always reliable for detecting liver damage. MRIs are expensive and often difficult to perform in rural areas.
To improve detection of these silent and insidious diseases, a team of researchers from the University of San Diego and the Salt Lake Institute (United States) has created a new diagnostic tool based on the microbiome capable of identifying with a 90% reliability fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver. Their work has just been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
“The microbiome is a living and dynamic sensor of small changes in the health and diseases of the body, and as such, it provides an accurate reading of the health of the body,” says Professor Ronald Evans, co-author of the work. .
Inexpensive and non-invasive, this new diagnostic method is based on a patient stool sample analysis algorithm that could “be widely used, especially in the many regions that lack clinics and specialist doctors. It could just be a game-changer, with global implications.”
Based on a “microbiomic signature” of the disease, this test can detect up to 19 bacteria present in the stool and responsible for chronic liver diseases, including cirrhosis and fibrosis. A total of 163 samples from healthy and sick volunteers were analyzed. The signature of the microbiome was associated with a diagnosis of cirrhosis with an accuracy of 94% and made it possible to precisely identify cirrhosis in more than 90% of patients.
The microbiomic signature could also determine the stage of liver fibrosis, which would allow doctors to classify patients according to the stage of the disease and improve treatment strategies.
“These results demonstrate that it is possible to use algorithms to identify a universal signature that can be used to make an accurate diagnosis of a disease, such as cirrhosis of the liver, said Tae Gyu Oh, first author of the article. The patterns we found reflect the complexity of the microbiome and how gut health likely affects the disease.”
Other research is planned, to study the causal link between the microbiome and liver diseases and to check if the restoration of certain parts of the microbiome leads to a regression of the disease or if the elimination of certain bacteria aggravates it . The researchers also hope that this approach can be used to diagnose other diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases that have been shown to be are probably affected by a deregulated microbiome.