Scientists are testing treatment using helminth larvae to treat bowel diseases

Scientists are testing treatment using helminth larvae to treat bowel diseases

Treating bowel diseases by eating parasitic worms, a frustrating treatment approach. However, scientists believe it can help people with ulcerative colitis.

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It is estimated that about 600 million people in the world are infected with hookworms, which are parasitic worms that settle in the intestines, especially among residents of poor countries in the tropics. However, New Zealand researchers believe that swallowing a small amount could be beneficial for people with ulcerative colitis. In their experimental study published in Inflammatory bowel diseasesThey gave half of the 20 volunteers capsules containing 30 hookworm larvae (American Killers) while the other half received a placebo. How did their health condition develop after one year of follow-up?

Parasitic worms that heal the intestines?

The parasitic worms have grown well in the intestines of the volunteers since the scientists found eggs in their feces, but they failed to radically change the health status of the patients. In fact, 40% of affected patients are in clinical remission after one year; It’s 50% for the placebo group. There is no significant effect on this specific parameter. Because it is a chronic condition, patients with ulcerative colitis may remain in remission for several months until symptoms return in a flare-up or break out. Medications are available to prevent these painful episodes that reduce patients’ quality of life. The helminths did not significantly reduce the time between attacks compared to placebo.

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But scientists remain confident despite the mixed results obtained at the end of this very small study. ” One of the main points of the study is that a single dose of hookworm can remain in the body for years, if not longer. This means that if hookworms are effective in preventing relapses, they may become infected and may no longer need daily treatment. […] I think this is where the strength of this approach lies. », Explain Thomas Mull, first author of the study.

If the worm infestation is well tolerated, with discomfort appearing about six to eight weeks after the start of the experiment and disappearing after several weeks, its efficacy still needs to be demonstrated in a larger-scale study.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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