We have written many posts on helminthic therapy (worms) and they seem to be engendering a lot of interest in the research and scientific communities.
Dr Joel v. Weinstock, Director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts Medical Centre in Boston, USA has written a really good article in ‘Nature’ that explains exactly why worms might help our immune systems. He also looks at the trials being undertaken using helminthic therapy. The article has the wonderful title ‘The Worm Returns’. It is a really good, readable article and, for anyone interested in helminthic therapy, it is the best article we have come across.
In short, he explains that worms seem to have three major effects on the immune system. First, they seem to cause changes that activate regulatory T cells (these cells dampen immune responses and curb autoimmunity). Second, they seem to act on regulatory dendritic cells and macrophages (these cells prevent the switching on of dangerous effector T cells which lead to inflammation). Third, they seem to alter the bacterial composition of intestinal flora (i.e. they promote the growth of gut micro organisms which help to maintain intestinal health – like the rather popular ‘probiotic’ drinks).
Dr Weinstock has been examining helminths for nearly 20 years, and he certainly seems to feel that we are now at a point where the medical, scientific and research communities are taking it very seriously. Hooray!
At the moment, we can’t find a link on the internet to the full article. if anyone wants to look at the full article, please contact us, as we have it in PDF format.