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Here’s a new article from the University of Manchester, finding worms are a key part of a well orchestrated immune system.  Is it just me, or are you getting a little tired of the avalanche of proof while we wait patiently suffering, unable to afford or receive our worms?    We want worms and we want them NOW.

From the articles:

“A new class of organisms may be cutting in on the classic, co-evolutionary, immune system-boosting tango between mammals and the beneficial bacteria that inhabit their guts: parasitic worms.”

Trichuris muris eggs with Escherichia coli
Image courtesy of Kelly Hayes, University of

“Importantly, the work also showed that the presence of worms and bacteria altered the immune responses in a way that is likely to protect ourselves, the bacteria and the worms.

Intestinal roundworm parasites are one of the most common types of infection worldwide, although in humans increased hygiene has reduced infection in many countries. High level infections by these parasites can cause disease, but the natural situation is the presence of relatively low levels of infection. The team’s work suggests that in addition to bacterial microflora, the natural state of affairs of our intestines may well be the presence of larger organisms, the parasitic roundworms, and that complex and subtle interactions between these different types of organism have evolved to provide an efficient and beneficial ecosystem for all concerned.

Professor Roberts says: “The host uses its immune system to regulate the damage caused by the bacteria and the worms. If the pathogens are missing, the immune system may not give the right response.”

Professor Grencis adds: “The gut and its inhabitants should be considered a complex ecosystem, not only involving bacteria but also parasites, not just sitting together but interacting.”

I don’t know how this relates to hookworms or whipworms, but the thought before was that no pathogens could be transmitted from the parasites. This study shows that even when washed in an anti-microbial solution, certain pathogens remained and were capable of being passed on to an infected host.

It mentions mycobacteria avium was isolated from parasites that had fed on an infected host. Considering a theory that Crohn’s is often associated with MAP, one might be a little hesitant in sharing one’s infection with other parties if you have Crohn’s. Since there is little way to get testing for this organism at this time.

How does one assure oneself that the hookworms or whipworms are pathogen free, if an anti-microbrial buffer only washes the outside of the organism? I guess this is why TSO was chosen; pathogen free pigs. I wonder how Nottingham got past this, and how often and for what infections the resevoir donor is tested for?

For those DIY’ers, something to consider. And for those buying the parasites, something to ask about.

ISSN 1007-9327 CN 14-1219/R World J Gastroenterol  2010 February 14; 16(6): 703-712

Schistosoma mansoni proteins attenuate gastrointestinal motility disturbances during experimental colitis in mice

Injecting worm proteins  into mice given colitis resulted in decreased gastric motility (less bowel movements) and amelioration of inflammation.  Pretty good stuff.  This means that worm proteins will eventually be the next Prednisone, and the live worm won’t be necessary.  I wonder how often we would have to take them?  Will they be a shot, a pill, or an enema?  Can we get out of the mice model into some human studies before those with IBD lose their colons in waiting?


AIM: To investigate the therapeutic effect of Schisto­soma mansoni (S. mansoni) soluble worm proteins on gastrointestinal motility disturbances during experi­mental colitis in mice.

METHODS: Colitis was induced by intrarectal injection of trinitrobenzene sulphate (TNBS) and 6 h later, mice were treated ip with S. mansoni proteins. Experiments were performed 5 d after TNBS injection. Inflammation was quantified using validated inflammation parameters. Gastric emptying and geometric center were measured to assess in vivo gastrointestinal motility. Peristaltic activity of distal colonic segments was studied in vitro using a modified Trendelenburg set-up. Cytokine profiles of T-lymphocytes isolated from the colon were determined by real time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction.

RESULTS: Intracolonic injection of TNBS caused severe colitis. Treatment with S. mansoni proteins significantly ameliorated colonic inflammation after 5 d. TNBS did not affect gastric emptying but significantly decreased the geometric center and impaired colonic peristaltic activity 5 d after the induction of colitis. Treatment with S. mansoni proteins ameliorated these in vivo and in vitro motility disturbances. In addition, TNBS injection caused a downregulation of effector T cell cytokines after 5 d, whereas a S. mansoni protein effect was no longer observed at this time point.

CONCLUSION: Treatment with S. man­soni proteins attenuated intestinal inflammation and ameliorated motility disturbances during murine experi­mental colitis.

© 2010 Baishideng. All rights reserved.

Disappointing. 10 hookworms didn’t really work statistically for asthma or allergies, but there were immune changes.  I wonder what “mimic most closely natural infection” means (last line of abstract for asthma study)? Less at once, more often? Or more than 10? I am feeing extraordinarily lucky that 10 hookworms caused such a pronounced change in me; first for the worst, then for the better. I started with 10 hookworms De. 2007, got edema, arthritis, a fever, diarrhea.  By month 4 I was in remission, but added 2-3 worms a week for a total of 37.  Then I lost them somehow by September 2008 and lost efficacy.

I got 10 new hookworms in February 2009, then 10 more in late September 2009. My last egg count was 1400 epg. My CRP (measure of inflammation) has been normal since March 2009.  So 20 worms are working for me.  Weight’s been normal since March, I can eat most foods but still get diarrhea from too much fiber.  Now my hormones are causing anxiety/depression, but I’m assuming that’s un-worm related.   I’m almost 38 years old.

I wish we knew the ideal dosing number and dosing schedule.  It seems that those with the best response are getting at least 20-30 hookworms, though I also know of Crohns patients who had to terminate because 20-25 worms were way too much at once.  I wish these studies were faster since we’re just dosing in the dark.

The asthma study:

Experimental hookworm infection: a randomized placebo-controlled trial in asthma.

Feary JR, Venn AJ, Mortimer K, Brown AP, Hooi D, Falcone FH, Pritchard DI, Britton JR.

Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.

Article after article extolling the virtues of helminths’ ability to prevent allergies and autoimmune diseases always end in quotes like this:

“The hope is that the work could aid the development of new treatments which work in the same way as gut parasites, by dampening down or rebalancing the immune system so that the body does not respond to allergens and trigger asthma attacks.”

“Here, the view is presented that assessment of the immunophysiological response to helminths could identify that infection with specific parasites would be therapeutically useful (although many helminths could not fulfil this role) and lead to precise knowledge of the immune events following infection, to identify ways to intervene in disease processes (in the absence of infection per se) that can be used to treat, and eventually cure, inflammatory and autoimmune disease.” Read the rest of this entry »

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