NAFLD is an epidemic of the 21st century affecting >30% of the world's population. As the most common liver disease in industrialized countries and the 2nd indication for liver transplants, NAFLD is one of the main contributors of mortality and morbidity related to chronic liver disease and cancer, surpassing viral hepatitis B/C and alcoholic liver disease as historical drivers of hepatic conditions. NAFLD occurs in absence of excessive alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis, autoimmune diseases, or drug-induced hepatotoxicity. Instead, NAFLD is associated with unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits, obesity, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and other metabolic complications. Indeed, 50-70% of people with diabetes have NAFLD, and NAFLD severity tends to worsen with the presence of diabetes.
Due to the tight relationship between the liver and the gastrointestinal tract, it is not surprising that intestinal dysbiosis is associated with all stages of NAFLD, which is further supported in animal studies with manipulations of the microbiome.
Our main goal is to combat the burden of NAFLD through the development of trustworthy microbiome-based digital tools for superior clinical management. To achieve this, we develop robust machine learning tools to assess and predict the risk of developing NAFLD and/or the risk of disease progression once it is diagnosed, taking into account the individual microbiomes and mycobiomes, among other host characteristics.
We have coordinated the EU Innovative Training Network BestTreat within the framework of these scientific objectives and continue to work with our partners to deliver microbiome-based solutions.