Weird Medicine

Bacteria Found To Help Humans Cut Heart Disease, Stroke Risks

Cardiovascular disease kills one in three people every day worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In the U.S., a large number of the population is estimated to have heart problems or have high risk of suffering a stroke. 

But a new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, promises to help address the rising numbers of people suffering from cardiovascular disease. Researchers confirmed in latest human trials that the bacteria Akkermansia muciniphila is effective as a nutritional supplement to cut the risk of having the condition. 

Researchers from the University of Louvain in Belgium first recognized the potential health benefits of the bacteria in 2007. The team found that it could help slow down the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes in mice. 

A decade after the first discovery, researchers found that Akkermansia, when used as a supplement, could fight cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as insulin resistance and hypercholesterolemia in animal subjects.

The UCLouvain team continued studying the bacteria. The latest findings come from the analysis of the effects of supplements containing Akkermansia during human clinical trials. 

During the tests, overweight or obese volunteers took food supplements with the bacteria. All participants had high risk of having cardiovascular disease. 

The UCLouvain researchers said that the bacteria appeared safe for humans with no side effects. The supplements were also easy to ingest. Participants also showed improved health and lower risk of having heart problems and stroke. The supplements also helped reduce inflammation markers in the liver, cholesterol levels and weight. 

Each participant lost 2.3 kg on average during the study. The research team plans to conduct a large-scale study to confirm the results of their study. They hope to start introducing the Akkermansia supplement for commercialization by 2021.

Heart Disease in the U.S.

The new drug could play an important role in addressing the growing cases of heart disease in the country. The condition is considered the leading cause of death for both men and women. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 610,000 people die of heart disease in the country every year. At least 525,000 of those cases account for first-time heart attacks. 

Akkermansia University of Louvain conducted the first pilot study in humans to observe the impact of the bacteria Akkermansia. Patrice Cani/UCLouvain

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