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Scientists Want to Use Parasitic Worms for MS Treatment

July 19, 2016

Researchers have been investigating if parasitic worms could be the answer to halting multiple sclerosis progression. They could be found to reduce many symptoms of the chronic illness ranging from gluten intolerance to inflammatory bowel disease.

At the University of Technology Sydney in Australia they are investigating whether the worms could be useful in calming down immune system responses and preventing diseases like MS from even developing to begin with. They main objective is to ultimately stop or slow down the clinical progression to severe disability that occurs in those with MS.

Lead researcher, Sheila Donnelly, thinks the worms will help by their use of self-preservation, they also live and feed off of the living hosts which in this case would be the MS patients, so they would be as obtrusive as possible. They are able to manipulate a patient’s immune response by secreting certain kinds of special immune-system modifying compounds. These compounds then prevent the immune system from panicking about their presence, then eventually stop the immune system’s panic about other things like gluten, pollen or myelin around the nerve cells.

The same molecules secreted by the parasites that diminish the excess of inflammation are also being used in order to switch off the inflammatory response in order to mediate diseases like MS.

This study hopes to use compounds that have been extracted from the worms instead of using the live animals themselves. This allows it to not only be easier for the patients to swallow, but also more predictable results.

If all goes well in the mouse model that will be tested with the compound and RRMS, it will be taken to clinical trials. “Results obtained will support the development of novel strategies to inhibit progression of MS, with potential for development of new therapeutic drugs.” Stated Donnelly.