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Blood-sucking Hookworms :New Weapon Against Asthma

by Ann Samuel on September 15, 2007 at 3:14 PM
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Blood-sucking Hookworms :New Weapon Against Asthma

Blood-sucking parasitic worms can be a potential treatment for asthma and other allergic diseases, say researchers.

People with asthma and hay fever are being purposely infected with hookworms to test whether the parasites can control the allergic reactions that cause the conditions. British researchers believe that hookworm infestations could be induced under medical supervision to reduce symptoms, or the worms could help the development of new drugs.

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They also say that worm treatments might not only work for allergies, but also more serious auto-immune disorders such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Evidence from the early 1970s suggests that people infected with the tropical hookworm do not suffer allergies. Studies in New Guinea, where hookworms are common, have suggested that the worms protect themselves in the human body by dampening down the immune system. At the same time, they appear to prevent over-active immune responses linked to allergies and auto-immune diseases.
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Now, Dr David Pritchard, from the University of Nottingham, is leading a team to determine if the worms can be harnessed to fight these conditions. Two small safety trials have already been completed and early preparations are in progress for a study of asthma patients.

"Many of the people who were given a placebo have now requested worms. And the people with worms, many of them have decided to keep them for the next hay fever season," Times Online quoted Dr Pritchard, as saying.



Source: ANI
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