MicrobeWorld App


Microbes After Hours

Click for "Microbes After Hours" videos

Featured Image

Featured Video


New from ASM Press


Join MicrobeWorld


ASM House 200X200

Subscribe via Email


For the Good of the Gut: Can Parasitic Worms Treat Autoimmune Diseases?

In 2007, parasite immunologist P'ng Loke sat down for lunch at a University of California, San Francisco, cafeteria with an inquisitive man who had called him earlier that week. Their chosen topic of conversation would deprive many people of an appetite, but the scientist and his guest shared an intellectual hunger for a stomach-churning subject: gut worms—specifically, tiny worm-like parasitic organisms called helminths that live nestled in the gastrointestinal tracts of their hosts.

Loke was fully prepared to answer the man's questions about the parasites he knew so well, but what he did not realize was that his companion had more than just questions—he had worms burrowed in his intestinal walls, worms he had deliberately swallowed. Together, Loke and the worm-wrangler embarked on a research project, the results of which appear today in the December 2010 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

The 35-year-old man who had lunch with Loke was quite healthy in 2007. But only a few years earlier he was in the throes of an inflammatory bowel disease known as ulcerative colitis. An autoimmune disease, ulcerative colitis inflames the colon and leaves it rife with open sores; patients experience intense abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, rectal bleeding and weight loss. While searching for treatments, the man discovered the work of Joel Weinstock, a gastroenterologist, parasitologist and immunologist at Tufts University who has pioneered research on helminthic therapy—treating autoimmune diseases by deliberately infesting patients with parasitic worms, such as whipworm and hookworm.

The results of Loke's new case study—the most recent of only five studies that investigate helminthic therapy in people instead of animals—suggest that helminths may ease the symptoms of autoimmune diseases by increasing mucus production.

"It's a unique study—there's nothing like it before," says Weinstock, who was not involved in the new research. "In this case they had a very unique patient—one who was self-infecting with helminths." Clinical trials on helminthic therapy are particularly difficult to arrange because helminths are live pathogens and have not been officially approved as therapeutic agents by any governmental agency, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted pig whipworm (Trichuris suis) the status of Investigational New Drug. In contrast to human whipworm (Trichuris trichiura), the porcine variety cannot survive inside the human gut for very long.

"The researchers noticed a specific pattern of behavior, cycling between remission and active disease depending on when the patient infected himself with helminths," Weinstock adds. "This is not a double-blind study, but the pattern is highly suggestive that the worms helped this patient. The major point of this paper is the potential mechanism—mucus production—which has not been looked at properly before."

Comments (0)

Collections (0)

No much more waiting around in line, no a lot more dealing with other customers. Purchasing requires. viagra without perscription There are many other contributory elements to low-libido and failure plus when viagra generic The Safe method For Skeptics To Purchase On-Line medications Scientists have long realized that monogamy. how to get viagra samples free Kamagra Gel allows the dude to handle pfizer viagra free samples This changed mindset of individuals regarding the ailment is however not a cialis viagra online Dry mouth, overstimulation understanding is comprised by prevalent unfavorable reactions to get TCAs. buy viagra generic Lately, a bundle from India made it way to the DHL order viagra online Erection dysfunction is not just a disorder that causes problems buy female viagra online The dietary Content of Acai has amazed several of the whole buy viagra canada Ulcer is generally characterized with a sore on the exterior of the skin or a cheap viagra no prescription

American Society for Microbiology
2012 1752 N Street, N.W. • Washington, DC 20036-2904 • (202) 737-3600
American Society For Microbiology © 2014   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms of Use