Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Worms could regulate immune system and prevent asthma

  • Comment
Scientists are carrying out research to see if gut worms could be used to regulate the immune system and prevent conditions such as asthma and allergies.

Experts believe parasitic worms, or helminths, play an important role in regulating the immune system, but the worms have been eliminated from humans in developed countries thanks to modern hygiene.

They believe their absence may be linked to increases in a range of disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and some cancers.

A trial in Nottingham has infected asthma sufferers with hook worms to see if their symptoms are eased. US scientists are following up a study in Argentina which found that people with multiple sclerosis who naturally became infected with worms saw the progress of their disease slow.

It is hoped drug companies will now use the research to develop drugs that use treatments that mimic the parasites.

Graham Rook, professor of medical microbiology at University College London, said: "Certain organisms that were there throughout our evolutionary history have developed a role in causing the immune system to develop and causing the policemen of the immune system to be operating at the right level."

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.