The liver is a pretty amazing organ (see structure above) - especially when you take into account its often unrecognised immunological role. It's becoming more established that we can kind of think of the liver as a giant biological filter where it extracts all sorts of harmful molecules and pathogens from our blood. After all, it is a major component of the reticuloendothelial system - your bodies natural filtering system. From the minute any microbe reaches your blood stream, it is instantly taken to the liver on the back of our circulatory system. And, within an hour, nearly 100% of those pathogens are removed (see graph below) but what is doing this inside your liver?
But, while this all sounds like a pretty good idea, removing those nasty viruses - when we move into the administration of viral gene therapy vectors, what we don't want is the liver to remove those helpful microbes. And it's becoming a pretty big research project, trying to engineer these vectors to evade our liver.
The system isn't perfect but how exactly does it work? - and if we understand how it works, can we subvert it?