'Worm pill' could ease autoimmune disease symptoms

melihtas

Senior Member
Messages
135
Likes
380
Location
Istanbul Turkey
'Worm pill' could ease autoimmune disease symptoms
Experts believe a molecule in parasitic worms could help explain why worm infections can effectively treat a range of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

The Monash University study, published in the FASEB Journal, successfully identified peptides from parasitic worms that suppress the body's immune response. Researchers believe this could pave the way for a new drug containing the peptide to provide relief from the symptoms of autoimmune diseases.

Affecting as many as one in 20 Australians, autoimmune diseases occur when a person's immune system has an abnormal response against its own cells, tissues or even entire organs, resulting in inflammation and damage.

Lead researcher Professor Ray Norton from Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) said experts around the world have yet to fully understand the causes of autoimmune diseases, which have risen significantly in parts of the world.

"There are more than eighty autoimmune diseases, ranging in severity from mild to life threatening in some cases. While some affect mainly one area or organ, others can affect many parts of the body," he said.

"Many people believe there's a link between the rise in autoimmune diseases and an increased focus on cleanliness in western societies, because the immune system is no longer exposed to the broad range of infections that previous generations had to deal with.

"There could be some truth to this because worm infection is virtually unheard of in developed countries, yet the incidence of autoimmune diseases is high. But in developing countries the opposite is true," Professor Norton said

The new line of research offers an alternative to helminthic therapy, where people deliberately infect themselves with parasitic worms, in an attempt to put their autoimmune disease into remission. It's thought that the worms have a calming effect on their host's immune systems in order to ensure their survival.

Rather than using worms, the research team searched for the active components responsible for immunomodulatory effects in parasitic worms. By creating a cDNA library from the anterior secretory glands of the parasitic hookworm Ancylostoma caninium, they identified a peptide called AcK1 that dampens the immune system by inhibiting a potassium channel (Kv1.3).

Researchers found that AcK1 closely resembles ShK, a peptide from a sea anemone, which has been shown to suppress autoimmune diseases and is currently in clinical trials for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Dr Sandeep Chhabra from Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, said the study will help in developing new drugs to treat autoimmune diseases.

"Our research shows that it is possible to identify individual molecules responsible for this beneficial affect," he said.

"The next step will be to see if we can develop this into a pill that could dampen the immune system in people with an autoimmune disease. That's a whole lot cleaner than putting a worm in your body," Dr Chhabra said.

Wikipedia: Helminthic therapy
Helminthic therapy, a type of immunotherapy, is the treatment of autoimmune diseases and immune disorders by means of deliberate infestation with a helminth or with the ova of a helminth. Helminths are parasitic worms such as hookworms and whipworms.

Helminthic therapy consists of the inoculation of the patient with specific parasitic intestinal nematodes (helminths). There are currently four related treatments available. which include inoculation with Hymenolepis diminuta cysticercoid, Necator americanus,[1] commonly known as hookworms, or Trichuris suis ova (TSO),[2] commonly known as pig whipworm eggs, or inoculation with Trichuris trichiura ova,[1] commonly referred to as human whipworm eggs.

Current research and available therapy are targeted at, or available for, the treatment of Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), multiple sclerosis, asthma, eczema, dermatitis, hay fever, and food allergies.

Helminthic infection has emerged as one possible explanation for the low incidence of autoimmune diseases and allergies in less developed countries, together with the significant and sustained increase in autoimmune diseases in industrialized countries.
 
Last edited:

Iquitos

Senior Member
Messages
513
Likes
984
Location
Colorado
The theory doesn't work for me. I grew up on a ranch and farm and we always said "You have to eat your peck of dirt before you die." I've wrestled calves for branding, rolled around in the cow patties and breathed the dust kicked up by horses and cattle. I've been tossed off a horse and stepped on by cattle.

I had to clean out the chicken house each spring, also breathing and touching a lot of "unhealthy" dust.

And as kids, we all had worms and were given pills to get rid of them. I would be surprised if most kids didn't have worms of some kind when they were small.

We grew almost all our own food and slaughtered our own meat animals. There is nothing in my childhood lifestyle that can account for ME at age 34.

If anything is affecting our immune systems in this way, it's more likely all the vaccinations that kids get at such a young age nowadays, before they can develop a normal immune system.
 
Messages
5,256
Likes
32,004
I tend to agree with Iquitos. To be honest the news story does not tell us much but it looks a bit half baked to me. When Professor Norton says experts around the world have yet to fully understand the causes of autoimmune diseases presumably he is speaking for himself. I think I know enough to suspect that nothing that helps RA is likely to help psoriasis. I am not sure on what grounds half the diseases mentioned are called autoimmune. OK I have my own particular views but this looks like that sort of fashionable simplistic account that people use to persuade each other to give themselves research grants as they revolve through the committees. 'Damping the immune system' is the sort of language one might have used in the 1970s but I think we need something a bit more honed to a point these days.

These peptides might still work brilliantly for one disease - whichever one they are relevant to.
 

Martial

Senior Member
Messages
1,376
Likes
1,243
Location
Ventura, CA
The theory doesn't work for me. I grew up on a ranch and farm and we always said "You have to eat your peck of dirt before you die." I've wrestled calves for branding, rolled around in the cow patties and breathed the dust kicked up by horses and cattle. I've been tossed off a horse and stepped on by cattle.

I had to clean out the chicken house each spring, also breathing and touching a lot of "unhealthy" dust.

And as kids, we all had worms and were given pills to get rid of them. I would be surprised if most kids didn't have worms of some kind when they were small.

We grew almost all our own food and slaughtered our own meat animals. There is nothing in my childhood lifestyle that can account for ME at age 34.

If anything is affecting our immune systems in this way, it's more likely all the vaccinations that kids get at such a young age nowadays, before they can develop a normal immune system.
If that is your upbringing maybe looking into bacterial infections like Lyme and Co Infections would be helpful. I was similarly spent an abnormal amount of my time outdoors before getting sick.
 

SOC

Senior Member
Messages
7,849
Likes
16,369
If anything is affecting our immune systems in this way, it's more likely all the vaccinations that kids get at such a young age nowadays, before they can develop a normal immune system.
I didn't have a single vaccination until I was well into my 20's, so the too many childhood vaccines theory doesn't work for me at all.
 

Iquitos

Senior Member
Messages
513
Likes
984
Location
Colorado
If that is your upbringing maybe looking into bacterial infections like Lyme and Co Infections would be helpful. I was similarly spent an abnormal amount of my time outdoors before getting sick.
Been there, done that, even though I've never had the symptoms of Lyme (and never had the symptoms of Q fever.)

I left that lifestyle behind at age 17 and didn't get ME until I was 34. Don't think there would be such a delay from exposure to expression of disease. I was super healthy until I got ME at age 34.

What I had at 34 was obviously a virus -- the "killer flu" that so many of us had at that time. The crowded waiting room of the hospital I went to was full of people like me, sitting on the floor because there weren't enough chairs, holding plastic bags for the interminable vomiting -- like my body was trying to turn itself inside out. I didn't have a fever but areas around my lymph nodes got so hot the skin later flaked off as if I'd had a sunburn in those areas and left patches of darkened skin, like huge, dark freckles, which I didn't have anywhere else.

What's an "abnormal" amount of time outdoors?
 

Martial

Senior Member
Messages
1,376
Likes
1,243
Location
Ventura, CA
Been there, done that, even though I've never had the symptoms of Lyme (and never had the symptoms of Q fever.)

I left that lifestyle behind at age 17 and didn't get ME until I was 34. Don't think there would be such a delay from exposure to expression of disease. I was super healthy until I got ME at age 34.

What I had at 34 was obviously a virus -- the "killer flu" that so many of us had at that time. The crowded waiting room of the hospital I went to was full of people like me, sitting on the floor because there weren't enough chairs, holding plastic bags for the interminable vomiting -- like my body was trying to turn itself inside out. I didn't have a fever but areas around my lymph nodes got so hot the skin later flaked off as if I'd had a sunburn in those areas and left patches of darkened skin, like huge, dark freckles, which I didn't have anywhere else.

What's an "abnormal" amount of time outdoors?
Oh sorry typo auto correct, meant to write an high amount of time out doors. So you never had any kind of symptoms until then? And now you are still feeling ill from it? Is there anyone else that was there during that time who is still ill?
 

Iquitos

Senior Member
Messages
513
Likes
984
Location
Colorado
@Martial No, I had no symptoms of ME before the summer of 1982. Yes, I still have that illness and it is progressing in some ways. I recovered to about 50% of normal function at that time and have lost function over time to where I function at around 25% of normal. Some of that could be that I am now 66, but my parents are still living independenly at ages 89 & 90. They are in many ways healthier than I am, so I doubt that my loss of function is due to age.

I don't know whether anyone else at the hospital (Kaiser) when I was is still ill. I didn't know those patients then and have no way of knowing. I do know that no one in my office (San Jose CA) ever got sick like I did and no one else in my family or social circles, either.
 

Martial

Senior Member
Messages
1,376
Likes
1,243
Location
Ventura, CA
@Martial No, I had no symptoms of ME before the summer of 1982. Yes, I still have that illness and it is progressing in some ways. I recovered to about 50% of normal function at that time and have lost function over time to where I function at around 25% of normal. Some of that could be that I am now 66, but my parents are still living independenly at ages 89 & 90. They are in many ways healthier than I am, so I doubt that my loss of function is due to age.

I don't know whether anyone else at the hospital (Kaiser) when I was is still ill. I didn't know those patients then and have no way of knowing. I do know that no one in my office (San Jose CA) ever got sick like I did and no one else in my family or social circles, either.
When you followed up with doctors did they suggest that the same viral illness could be causing long term issues/chronic infection, or that the M.E. was triggered from acute illness? There is also the possibility your immune system was holding other stuff at bay until that time you got really sick, then all hell broke loose so to speak. What kind of treatments have you been doing so far? Have anti virals of any kind been of any assistance?
 

Mark

Senior Member
Messages
5,238
Likes
6,200
Location
Sofa, UK
Many people believe there's a link between the rise in autoimmune diseases and an increased focus on cleanliness in western societies, because the immune system is no longer exposed to the broad range of infections that previous generations had to deal with.
This idea often provokes me to post because it always strikes me that the 'hygiene hypothesis' seems to ignore an equally likely explanation for the rising levels of allergies and immune/autoimmune diseases. If the idea is that broad correlations have been observed between increased cleanliness and these health problems, is it not the case that this increased cleanliness goes hand in hand with the increasing use of more and more different kinds of synthetic cleaning chemicals? And if I'm not missing the point there, then surely it's equally plausible to think that those new chemicals might themselves be the cause?

Yes, I know that mice raised in ultra-clean environments go on to develop problems. But again, what was used to clean those environments and keep them clean? And is it not also known that some of these same chemicals cause broadly similar problems in large doses, which is why the levels of them are controlled?

So it really rather bugs me that scientists always seem to talk about the 'hygiene hypothesis' but I never hear much from the mainstream about the 'chemical cleaning products toxicity hypothesis'. Perhaps @Jonathan Edwards can disabuse me of this idea and explain why there's a good reason to consider one hypothesis and ignore the other...I've never heard a good explanation but maybe there is one...
 

Martial

Senior Member
Messages
1,376
Likes
1,243
Location
Ventura, CA
This idea often provokes me to post because it always strikes me that the 'hygiene hypothesis' seems to ignore an equally likely explanation for the rising levels of allergies and immune/autoimmune diseases. If the idea is that broad correlations have been observed between increased cleanliness and these health problems, is it not the case that this increased cleanliness goes hand in hand with the increasing use of more and more different kinds of synthetic cleaning chemicals? And if I'm not missing the point there, then surely it's equally plausible to think that those new chemicals might themselves be the cause?

Yes, I know that mice raised in ultra-clean environments go on to develop problems. But again, what was used to clean those environments and keep them clean? And is it not also known that some of these same chemicals cause broadly similar problems in large doses, which is why the levels of them are controlled?

So it really rather bugs me that scientists always seem to talk about the 'hygiene hypothesis' but I never hear much from the mainstream about the 'chemical cleaning products toxicity hypothesis'. Perhaps @Jonathan Edwards can disabuse me of this idea and explain why there's a good reason to consider one hypothesis and ignore the other...I've never heard a good explanation but maybe there is one...
I have heard some other groups discuss theories on chemical causing diseases quite a bit actually, just not from the medical field or doctors themselves. Certain countries in Europe even banned the use of certain anti bacterial hand soaps because of the harsh ingredients it had contained. This is definitely an interesting point, however does this correlate with things used on our body like hand soaps, body washes, deodorants, etc or also the enviroment around us like glass and table cleaners, solvents, etc.

I did find a few studies that also looked at deodorant as a possible trigger for Alzheimer's due to high metal content like aluminum.
 

Iquitos

Senior Member
Messages
513
Likes
984
Location
Colorado
When you followed up with doctors did they suggest that the same viral illness could be causing long term issues/chronic infection, or that the M.E. was triggered from acute illness? There is also the possibility your immune system was holding other stuff at bay until that time you got really sick, then all hell broke loose so to speak. What kind of treatments have you been doing so far? Have anti virals of any kind been of any assistance?
@Martial This was the 1980s so doctors, upon not finding anything in their paper printouts of standard lab tests did what doctors did then: told me it was all in my head, or words to that effect, and prescribed antidepressants and talk therapy. I did both because I had no alternative then and wasn't connected to other patients. Neither "therapy" did me any good. The only good thing that eventually came from this was that I met a psychiatrist who also had ME. He was experiencing the same treatment: it's all in your head. So we had some good conversations about everything under the sun until he became so disabled he had to quit working.

Yes, there is always the possibility my "immune system was holding other stuff at bay". It would be impossible to prove that one way or another, now, and probably then. I had had mono (EBV) in college 15 years earlier. After getting ME, I did get tested for EBV (the culprit of the era) and was found to have titers "600 times normal." The doc said it probably meant something but he didn't know what and that there was "no treatment" anyway. Later my research showed me that there was a treatment for EBV: famvir or acyclovir. I will never know whether treatment then would have stopped or slowed down the progress, or even cured me.

After finding out about another ME sufferer (whose symptoms and history closely paralleled mine) had tried famvir and found it helpful, I attempted to do a trial of my own. I couldn't get famvir but acyclovir was available. I had gotten to the point I couldn't walk without holding on to the walls, furniture or my caregiver (ataxia). I started acyclovir and had an extreme reaction to it. Fever of 104 and the worst headache of my life. We backed off the dosage, treated the headache with ice and the other ailments with diclofenac with codeine.

Then we slowly increased dosage until after three months I was taking 800mg 4x/day. By six months I was able to again walk unaided and exprienced a lot of other improvements, especially in cognition. I was also taking 100mg doxycycline as prophylaxis against malaria (living in Central America by then; couldn't afford to live in the US on the meager SSDI check I was awarded in 1994). I could buy acyclovir over the counter there and I had a doctor there to monitor my liver, etc. (At $15 for a housecall and $15 for the phlebotomist to come to my house, take blood and urine, and provide the lab results to my doc.)

Since being back in the US I have trialled stopping both the doxy and the acyclovir and have had my symptoms worsen. And since my lab tests never showed any damage to liver or kidneys, I now use them both as my alternate immune system.

They never helped with PEM or lack of stamina. The doxy seems to help some with back pain.

The only thing that has helped with insomnia and joint pain is medical cannabis. I had got to the point I couldn't spread my legs without excruciating pain in my hip/groin joints. Since starting medical cannabis (March 2014) one side has returned to normal functioning and the other side is much, much better, due I feel, to the cannabis. I grow my own medical varieties (low THC, high CBD and other cannabidiols) and make herbal tinctures of them. I have not slept this well in 30 years and the lessening of the joint pain seems like a miracle to me.