Asthma And Allergy Protection From Parasitic Worms in the Intestine

by Tanya Thomas on Sep 30 2009 8:49 AM

Parasitic gut worms like the hookworm might aid in the treatment of asthma and other allergies, a recent study in Vietnam believes.

Infection with hookworm and other parasitic worms is endemic in Vietnam, but rates of asthma and other allergies are low.

A team of British and Vietnamese scientists observed the effects of worm clearing pills on almost 1500 children aged between six and 17.

They found that children taking these tablets were more prone to develop house-dust mite allergy.

However, the treatment did not really affect asthma or eczema.

The researchers said the study suggests that gut worms can reduce the allergy levels in humans.

The BBC quoted Dr Carsten Flohr, of the University of Nottingham, as saying: "The next step is to understand exactly how and when gut parasites programme the human immune system in a way that protects against allergies, and for such studies, follow-up from birth will be essential."

Scientists hope the findings of the study would lead to the development of treatments to tone down the responses of human immune system to allergens and thus reduce asthma attacks.

"The prospects of further studies in this area are very exciting as we could see groundbreaking treatments for asthma and other allergies developed as a result," said Dr Elaine Vickers, Research Relations Manager at the charity Asthma UK, which funded the research.