Worms Counter Colitis

This protocol is a little unexpected but still makes a lotof sense.  We have evolved to manage a parasiteload that is at most annoying but not necessarily fatal.  That active mucous discharge is part of thissystem seems likely and that a heavy mucous load also manages other inflammatoryconditions makes sense.

Thus taking on such a load is possibly a good idea as a wayto restore health to the affected intestine. Once resolved, it is easily disposed of and one hopes that the conditionitself never returns.

Of course, we are unclear why the issue arises in the firstplace, but it appears likely that dietary care may be preventative once it isfully cured through such a protocol.

I can hardly wait for the medical profession to advisegetting worms as a xcure.

Released: 11/29/2010 12:15 PMEST 

Findings Identify Potential Strategies for Treating Inflammatory BowelDiseases
Newswise — A new studyinvolving a man who swallowed worm eggs to relieve symptoms of ulcerativecolitis sheds light on how worms promote healing in the intestine. The study,published today in ScienceTranslational Medicine, also identifies potential targets for moreconventional ways of treating colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.

“The idea for treatingcolitis with worms is not new, but how this therapy might work remainsunclear,” says the study’s senior corresponding author, P'ng Loke, PhD,assistant professor of medical parasitology at NYU Langone Medical Center.“Our findings suggest that infection with this particular parasite increases orrestores mucus production in the colon, providing symptomatic relief.” 

A chronic disease, ulcerative colitis is characterized by open sores or ulcersin the lining of the colon. The disease is estimated to affect 600,000Americans, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, andthe most common symptoms are abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. The cause isunknown, but studies points to defects in immune regulation. Disruption ofmucus production is often associated with severe symptoms.

Colitis is common inNorth America and Northern Europe, wherehelminth (parasitic worm) infections are rare. Conversely, the disease is rarein Asia, Africa, and Latin America, wherehelminth infections are endemic, leading researchers to hypothesize that theworms offer protection against this inflammatory bowel disease. In animalmodels of autoimmunity these worms have suppressed inflammation, and clinicaltrials indicate that helminth therapy can be beneficial in relieving symptomsof inflammatory bowel diseases. 

To gain a better understanding of how such therapy works, Dr. Loke and hiscolleagues analyzed a series of blood and tissue samples taken from a34-year-old man living in California with ulcerative colitis who ingestedTrichuris trichiura eggs (a roundworm that infects the lower intestine) afterhaving researched the scientific literature. After several months, hiscondition improved dramatically and he remained in remission for almost threeyears. A subsequent cycle of self-treatment with the worm eggs achieved similarresults.

Tissues samples takenwhen the patient had active disease were found to contain high numbers of atype of immune cell (CD4+ T cells) that produces an inflammatory protein calledinterleukin-17. Tissue samples taken after exposure to the worms, when thedisease was in remission, contained an abundance of T cells that produceinterleukin-22 (IL-22), a protein important in mucosal healing. To expel theworm, the researchers note, the immune system appears to activate specializedcells that increase mucous production in the entire colon.

“In essence, the worms trigger a big sneeze of the gut, which may have abeneficial side effect for ulcerative colitis,” says Dr. Loke, who does notadvocate helminth therapy. “The problem is that these worms themselves cancause harm and damage the gut. The individual in this study is lucky to haveresponded so well, but for other people the worm infection may exacerbate bowelinflammation,” he says.

It is impossible rightnow to predict who might be helped and who might be harmed by infection withthese worms. Studies are underway, adds Dr. Loke, using a worm that infectspigs (T. suis) to treat colitis, which should be less risky.

Dr. Loke’sco-investigators include Mara J. Broadhurst, Joseph M. McCune, Uma Mahadevan,and James H. McKerrow of the University of California, San Francisco; andJacqueline M. Leung and Vikram Kashyap of NYU Langone Medical Center.

About NYU Langone Medical Center

NYU Langone MedicalCenter is one of the nation's premier centers of excellence in healthcare,biomedical research, and medical education. For over 170 years, NYU physiciansand researchers have made countless contributions to the practice and scienceof health care. Today the Medical Center consists of NYU School of Medicine, includingthe Smilow Research Center, the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine,and the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences; and the NYUHospitals Center, including Tisch Hospital, a 705-bed acute-care generalhospital, Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, the first and largestfacility of its kind, and NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases, a leader inmusculoskeletal care, a Clinical Cancer Center and numerous ambulatory sites.

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