While enjoying a couple of drinks each day might seem like a harmless routine, researchers from the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry warn it could actually put your liver at risk.
An estimated 25% of the world’s population has fatty liver disease, a condition characterized by extra fat stored in the liver.
Just two or three alcoholic drinks a day can lead to this condition, which in turn, increases the risk of severe liver diseases like cirrhosis over time.
Predicting Liver Damage with Revolutionary Tool
To tackle this problem, the MPI scientists developed a new diagnostic tool that can accurately predict if an individual has alcohol-related liver disease and assess their risk of disease progression.
Notably, this tool is non-invasive, meaning it does not require any surgical procedures or painful tests.
The Science Behind It
So, how does this tool work? The researchers collected blood samples from patients and used a mass spectrometer to identify hundreds of proteins in each sample.
A mass spectrometer is a sophisticated device that measures molecules with extreme precision.
Once the proteins (also known as the proteome) were identified, the scientists employed machine learning to find proteins linked to different forms of liver damage.
They found three sets of biomarkers – indicators of normal or pathological state in the body – that could detect significant fibrosis, mild inflammatory activity, and steatosis.
These are different ways in which liver disease can affect the tissue. So, by looking for these biomarkers in a blood sample, the researchers can predict whether a patient has liver disease and whether the disease is likely to worsen.
A Simple Blood Test for a Complex Issue
In essence, with just a simple blood sample, the tool can predict a patient’s risk of alcohol-related liver disease – a condition that affects six percent of the general population.
It’s a major breakthrough in liver disease detection and can potentially help in the prevention and early treatment of severe liver conditions.
Takeaway for Liver Health
If you’re concerned about liver health, do check out other studies related to the causes of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and new treatments for alcohol-associated liver disease.
For additional health insights, look into studies that link coffee consumption with a reduced risk of liver cancer and how a green Mediterranean diet could cut fatty liver disease by half.
This groundbreaking research, conducted by Professor Matthias Mann and team, was published in Nature Medicine.
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