parasitic worms

First ever trial on how parasitic worms could combat type 2 diabetes announced

by Barbara Hewitt on January 26, 2018

Young women who are overweight are to take part in the world’s first clinical trial into how parasitic worms could help to combat type 2 diabetes.

In the trial being carried out by scientists at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, the women who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes will be infected with hookworms to see how effective they are as a possible treatment for the chronic condition.

Parasitic Worms

(By Alexey Godzenko/

Some research in mice has found that infections of the parasites can protect them against diabetes by releasing anti-inflammatory molecules within the body and now the two-year study will seek to find out if there is a similar result in humans.

The women aged 18 to 44 will be inoculated with a dose of hookworm larvae, and their health monitored via regular medical assessments. The university’s Dr Paul Giacomin described the parasitic worms as being masters of controlling inflammation.

‘We now have the opportunity to conduct a world first trial into the safety and potential benefits that infections with parasitic worms have in humans who are at risk of metabolic diseases,’ he said.

‘This trial will be critical for determining whether we should start looking for the active molecules that worms release into the body to control metabolism, which could be produced as a drug for preventing type 2 diabetes,’ he added.

Meanwhile, researchers at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, have secured an $80,000 grant to further explore whether statins can trigger the development of type 2 diabetes.

Statins are used widely to lower cholesterol but the team, led by Professor Fergal O’Gara, will build on their study which has already shows that in mice statins drive changes in the body’s gut bacteria which can trigger the development of type 2 diabetes.

O’Gara believes that a full appreciation of the role of the gut microbiome had not yet been adequately factored into the complex puzzle with regards to type 2 diabetes research.

‘The beneficial gut bacterial population is collectively referred to as the microbiome and its importance to our health status has only recently come to prominence in the medical world. Our microbiome is now being referred to as the equivalent of a new organ in the body that also needs to be managed and protected,’ he explained.

‘Our work has demonstrated for the first time profound changes in the microbial composition of the gut following statin treatment and in our study mice experienced higher fasting blood glucose levels and weight gain,’ he added.