Skip to comments.A Dose of Worms, Please (multiple sclerosis head's up!)
Posted on 01/20/2007 9:56:21 PM PST by neverdem
A prolonged bout of intestinal parasites seems to slow the decline of patients with multiple sclerosis, according to a study released today. The results suggest that immune-modulating molecules from parasites could be developed into drugs to ease autoimmune diseases, and that by conquering parasite infections, modern medicine may have inadvertently increased our vulnerability to these illnesses.
Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) occur far more often in developed countries than in developing countries. And parasitic infections, which have been beaten down in the United States, are still common in South America and elsewhere in the developing world, says neuroimmunologist Jorge Correale of the Raúl Carrea Institute for Neurological Research in Buenos Aires, Argentina. What's more, studies have shown that infecting mice with parasites eased symptoms of an MS-like syndrome.
To see if the parasite-autoimmune link held up in humans, Correale and his colleague Maurício Farez identified 12 MS patients with high levels of parasite-fighting white blood cells called eosinophils and then confirmed parasite infections by examining stool samples under the microscope. They tracked those patients and equal numbers of uninfected MS patients and healthy people for 4 and a half years. In MS, the immune system attacks the insulating myelin sheath of nerves, disrupting the transmission of messages. Infected patients as a group suffered just three instances of new or worsening symptoms, compared with 56 in the uninfected patients. As measured by a standard neurological test, the degree of disability increased in 11 of the 12 uninfected patients, but in only two of the 12 infected individuals.
Next, the team measured white blood cells and immune-signaling chemicals called cytokines from each patient to understand how the invaders changed the immune system. Parasite infections induced much higher levels of three types of immune cells called regulatory T cells, the researchers report in January 2007 issue of Annals of Neurology. They propose that while fighting the parasite infection, these three types of cells also happen to dial down a different arm of the immune system that attacks myelin to cause multiple sclerosis. By finding the immune-signaling molecules responsible, it may one day be possible to identify parasite molecules that deactivate the immune system arm that causes autoimmune attacks, Correale says.
"It's a provocative study, and it would be interesting to do this in a larger number of individuals," says immunologist David Hafler of Harvard Medical School. If the results hold up, he says, it would underscore the emerging consensus that "an idle immune system is probably not good."
Now I know what to get my wife for her birthday. Parsites!
BTW, nice to see you rdb3. Haven't bumped into you in a long while.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
Thanks for the link.
I sent the article link to my sister who has MS.
I doubt she will be running out to get a gut full of worms though.
I'm still around, just in the shadows.
Enter Weinstock jv at PubMed. Lower case is accepted. You've just done a chronological author search for the guy mentioned in your link. Look at the rectangles just to the left of each title. If it has just lines, all you get is an abstract. If it has a green or orange bars, you can link the free article.
reminder bump for am - thanks. :-)
Same seems to happen with asthma.
Sometimes I think we have sterilized our world to the point that our bodies can't deal with it....
Diet of worms protects against bowel cancer
REGULAR doses of worms really do rid people of inflammatory bowel disease. The first trials of the treatment have been a success, and a drinkable concoction containing thousands of pig whipworm eggs could soon be launched in Europe.
The product will be called TSO, short for Trichuris suis ova, and will be made by a new German company called BioCure, whose sister company BioMonde sells leeches and maggots for treating wounds. Chief executive Detlev Goj says he expects sales of TSO in Europe will start in May, after approval by the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products. The agency would not comment. The pig whipworm was chosen as it does not survive very long in people. Patients would have to take TSO around twice a month. The human whipworm, which infects half a billion people, can occasionally cause problems such as anaemia.
The latest trials, carried out in the US, involved 100 people with ulcerative colitis and 100 with Crohn's disease, both incurable and potentially serious diseases collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease. In many of the volunteers the symptoms of IBD- such as abdominal pain, bleeding and diarrhoea- disappeared. The remission rate was 50 per cent for ulcerative colitis and 70 per cent for Crohn's, says gastroenterologist Joel Weinstock of the University of Iowa, who devised the treatment.
Interesting ... I was diagnosed with MS 12 years ago. About 6 years back I was bitten by a tick. I started feeling really tired and awful and feverish. The only thing my doctor could find was VERY high levels of eosinophils ... he was worried it might be cancer, and sent me to a hematologist. They found nothing.
After 2 months of antibiotics (levaquin), I felt better, but the eosinophil level never got quite all the way down. Before then I was having 3-4 MAJOR exacerbations per year ... solu-medrol ... the whole bit ... and I was on Beta-Seron, then Avonex.
After that bout of eosinophilia, I've had one very, very minor MS attack (I'm not even sure it was one it was so mild ... maybe a flare of old symptoms?). I was never tested for intestinal parasites, but don't they cause other symptoms? Interesting.
Yes they can cause other symptoms, but maybe you haven't become symptomatic yet. I would get my stool checked for ova and parasites.
I just emailed a friend that works in a research lab to see if she can get me a copy of the full article from the Annals of Neurology. I don't mind getting tested, but frankly I want to find out what kind they are so I can figure out what their favorite foods are :).
If I've had them for 6 years, they can't be all bad. The article (I've read a few dumbed-down versions in the last hour now) says they're common in some parts of the world, so they can't be too harmful or cause too many symptoms. Maybe their favorite food is chocolate?
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