Could a parasitic worm reignite your immune system and fend off diabetes type I?

by Barbara Hewitt on December 13, 2012

Could a parasitic worm reignite your immune system and fend of diabetes type I?

There is a report by the Fox News Channel which suggests that a number of scientists at Coronado Biosciences are looking towards history as a means of attempting to create a cure for diabetes. While the idea of looking back in time to find a cure for illnesses is not new, there are some groundbreaking issues relating to this latest research programme.

There is a growing belief that many of the autoimmune diseases that we see today, which were unheard of hundreds of years ago, are in many ways as a result of changes to our diet, activities and ultimately our immune system. The idea that organisms which are currently deemed to be dangerous to the human race may well hold the key to a cure for diabetes, and other autoimmune system conditions, is certainly a very interesting development.

Looking back to the 19th century

We’ve all heard the stories of olden times in 19th-century when autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis were non-existent. These times saw many people bathe infrequently, very few wash their hands and compared to the lives that we live today they were deemed by many people to have a “filthy” existence. However, there is a growing belief that this lifestyle exposed many individuals to bacteria and germs which effectively activated their immune system allowing them to remain healthy on the whole.

It seems as though the fact that the body’s immune system, back in the 19th century, had more than enough challenges to cope with reduced the number of instances when the autoimmune system effectively began fighting itself.

Parasitic worms

The idea that doctors and scientists are using parasitic worms to treat medical conditions such as diabetes will likely send a shudder through the body of many diabetics but there is most certainly logic behind this particular strategy. It has already been proven beyond doubt that use of parasitic worms has assisted many sufferers of Crohn’s disease. This has prompted researchers to introduce various trials to try and tackle the problem of diabetes type I which will see the eggs of a pig whipworm effectively ingested into the stomach of sufferers.

Quote from the DiabetesForum.com : “I am planning on a new approach, I have reduced/stopped taking Met now for over 3 weeks, but I have still been playing around with different supplements to see what helps. After doing a lot of reading I have decided I am kinda stabbing in the dark and am going to take a new approach.”

This process is not quite as drastic and as dramatic as it may sound because these “worm eggs” will be part of a soluble saline solution and the eggs are microscopic in size, you can’t see them, feel, smell them or taste them. The idea is that by ingesting these parasitic worm eggs this should effectively reset the immune system of diabetic sufferers refocusing the attention of their immune system towards “alien materials” such as the worm eggs.

Previous studies

While this is the first time that worm eggs will be used to tackle the problem of diabetes type I in humans we can look back to the 1990s to see similar research on lab mice suffering from asthma, diabetes type I and an array of other immune related conditions. Perhaps the most noticeable impact which this research had back in the 1990s was to calm the immune system of the mice involved which had a positive impact on their overall health.

There is also the 2005 study into Crohn’s disease which saw 23 out of the 29 patients in the research programme slip into remission after the treatment. The only downside, and this is a relatively small downside, is the fact that these worm eggs are only able to survive for a maximum of two weeks in the human body therefore biweekly treatment would be required as and when this process has been perfected and proven beyond reasonable doubt to be effective. It does seem as though the previous research programmes into this particular area have been leading towards a potential treatment for diabetes type I and hopefully in the weeks and months ahead we will see this materialise.

Conclusion

We will continue to monitor these ongoing human trials of which there are three different types currently live. Two of the studies are aimed at preventing diabetes type II and one more is aimed at intervention which should give us a rounded view of the situation and potential treatment of the condition using parasitic worms.

The trials are being run in conjunction with the US Food and Drug Administration which is playing a very hands-on role with regard to human trials of diabetes treatments. It may well be that a look back at the past could bring us a cure in the future and maybe there is method in the madness associated with researching the days when many of the worldwide population never washed their hands let alone bathed frequently.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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