Can Parasitic Hookworms Help in Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis

A study to be instituted by the scientists at the University of Nottingham will try to study how hookworms may benefit people with multiple sclerosis as a potential treatment for the said disease. The WIRMS or Worms for Immune Regulation in MS study is led by Professor Cris Constantinescu and Professor David Pritchard. The three-year project costing around 400,000 UK pounds is funded by the MS Society.

The said study will be carried out in several centers in the UK and will be a randomized and placebo controlled Phase 2 study of at least 72 people with relapsing remitting MS. The said study will also be initiated by giving the participants 25 parasitic worms through a patch that will stay in the body for a period of nine months. After the nine-month period, the participants will then be given medicine to kill the parasites that will then pass harmlessly through the body. An MRI scan is given after 12 months to confirm total eradication of the worm.

The use of hookworms as a possible means of MS treatment was suggested because it is thought that such parasites may have a dampening effect on the immune system, which can become overactive in people with MS. If the said trial prove to be successful, then the hookworm treatment may provide a simple, cheap and controllable means to treat multiple sclerosis.

Professor Constantinescu has said that "People are really interested in this form of potential therapy because it’s a natural treatment. It’s been tested for safety and we now need to study the potential benefits and any side effects."

Jayne Spink, Director of Research at the MS Society further added, "It sounds like science fiction, but it has been shown in a previous small study that people with MS who also had gut parasite infections had fewer relapses."

"Over time, parasitic worms have evolved to be able to survive an immune system attack and have been linked to a reduction in the severity of the symptoms of MS, which can be debilitating.

"If the theories can be shown to be accurate, using hookworms as a future treatment option may prove to be science fact", Jayne Spink further added. A final result of the said trial may be available sometime in 2011 or 2012.


You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply