Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol has long been linked to a host of health problems, ranging from hangover-related headaches and fatigue, to heart diseases and immune deficiency. Scientists have now developed a novel way to protect people against these adverse effects – a genetically modified probiotic.
A team of scientists in China have published a paper in the journal Microbiology Spectrum outlining the development of the new treatment. Experiments with the probiotic on mice revealed that it could reduce alcohol absorption, extend alcohol tolerance and even shorten recovery time from alcohol consumption. Although not yet tested in humans, the scientists are hopeful that the treatment could potentially help mitigate the health issues caused by alcohol consumption.
Lead researcher Meng Dong, of the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Zoology, shared her optimism for the future of the modified probiotic. Dong believes that the probiotic could offer new solutions to treat a broad range of liver diseases. To reach this point, the team had to extract gene for human Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH1B) into a bacterial plasmid, which they then introduced into a species of Lactococcus lactis. Tests then confirmed that these probiotic bacteria were able to secrete the enzyme. For added protection against stomach acid, the probiotics were also encapsulated.
The efficacy of the probiotic was then tested on three groups of five mice, each exposed to different levels of alcohol. In the group that received the probiotic, half of the mice were still able to turn themselves over one hour after alcohol exposure, while none of the control group had. Additionally, the probiotic-treated mice also had lower blood alcohol levels two hours after exposure and showed lower levels of lipids and triglycerides in their livers, a sign of lower damage due to alcohol.
It remains to be seen if the promising results of the study in mice can be replicated on humans as well, but one thing is for sure – if this modified probiotic can provide a safe and effective way to reduce alcohol-induced health problems and liver damage, it will be a great option for those looking to mitigate the effects of their drinking habits.