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[A New Itch] Worms on the Brain

By — One of many Immune System blogs on

Find that doorway that fits your back just right and get ready to scratch that new itch!

A bioscience company from across the pond is researching some interesting affects of parasitic worms on the human immune system. Now, before you discount the rest of this article purely because you are revolted at the thought of worms inside your body, let me break it down for you and then you can make your judgement.

Back to Basics

These brilliant scientists began this research based on the "hygiene hypothesis," which posits that those brought up in a "developed" society (like the U.S.) have far less exposure to the parasitic infestations and basic bacteria that build a strong immune system, than those raised in less "vaccinated" regions. The incidences of allergies and auto-immune diseases tend to be much higher in these developed areas and that tendency is what sparked the idea of using the worms to reintroduce the developed populace to what they've been missing.

Harvesting the Eggs

The worm eggs that are used in the research are obtained from whipworms that are grown in pigs that are bred in Denmark. After removing the eggs from these pigs (who really got the raw end of the deal on this) they are sent off to Germany to be cleaned and further refined into an active agent.

Let the infesting begin!

In the original trial, 5 newly diagnosed patients with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis where given 2500 whipworm eggs on a weekly basis for three months. The original test/trial was designed to test the safety and actual tolerability of the worms in a human host. At the end of the three months, the results pointed towards a reduction in brain legions during the test and an increase afterward. The conclusion drawn was that the worms did what they were meant to, reduce the inflammation and number of legions caused by the MS.

Now that they have the results from their original trials, the company is looking at going forward with an FDA trial in the U.S. and working the active agent into being used on Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type I Diabetes and Acute Myelogenous Lukemia.

This type of treatment, with parasitic forms, is called Helminthic Therapy and has been used for quite a long time across human development. With over 2.5 million people affected by MS worldwide and a plethora more affected by the maladies listed above, here is to hoping that people can put their squeemishness aside and return to their roots.

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