Use of bacteriophages to rid the gut of disease-causing bacteria in the gut is safe and tolerable, according to findings presented at Nutrition 2018.
“Bacteriophages are viruses that do not infect humans, but target specific bacteria. Because they are safe for humans and can selectively combat specific microorganisms, they are being examined for their potential to help restore balance to the microbiota,” Taylor Wallace, PhD, principal and CEO of the Think Healthy Group Inc. and an adjunct professor in the department of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University, wrote in the abstract.
He investigated the capability of LL5-Siphoviridae, LL12-Myoviridae, T4D-Myoviridae, and LH01-Myoviridae – strains linked to elimination of E. Coli – to modulate the microbiome and reduce gastrointestinal distress in 31 individuals who reported gastrointestinal distress but had not been diagnosed with a specific condition. Participants were randomly chosen to receive either placebo or treatment for the first 4 weeks followed by a 2-week washout period and an additional 4-weeks on the opposite treatment.
Wallace reported that bacteriophage treatment resulted in significant decreases in IL-4, which is often linked to allergic response, but no decreases in other inflammatory markers. There was also a trend towards lower LDL and total cholesterol with bacteriophage consumption but no significant disturbances to the microbiota as indicated by beta and alpha diversity measures.
“Using viruses that infect only specific types of bacteria spares the many good bacteria in the gut, which are linked to numerous long-term beneficial health outcomes. We have shown for the first time that bacteriophage treatment has no apparent side effects, at least with short-term use,” Wallace said in a press release.
The release also stated the findings suggest bacteriophages could replace antibiotics to eliminate harmful gut bacteria and encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria that are known to enhance anti-inflammatory processes, gastrointestinal health and immune function. – by Janel Miller
Wallace T, et al. Results of the Bacteriophage for Gastrointestinal Health (PHAGE) Study. Presented at Nutrition 2018; June 9-12; Boston.
Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine authors relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.