Saturday, November 17, 2012

Parasitic Worms Calm the Inflamed Bowel


Worms Calm the Inflamed Bowel

Parasitic worm eggs given to monkeys with chronic diarrhea improved their condition as well as markers of bowel inflammation. Also this week: a new clue to metformin's anticancer mechanism.
Worms to Calm an Inflamed Bowel
Treating rhesus monkeys with the eggs of a parasitic helminth – the whipworm (Trichuris trichiura) – helped resolve their chronic diarrhea, a condition similar to ulcerative colitis in humans.
The idea came from observations that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is most common in countries where helminth infections have been mostly eradicated and from direct evidence in animals and humans that helminth infections may protect against IBD.
In a study reported in PLoS Pathogens, P'ng Loke, PhD, of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues explored the effects of helminth eggs given to five monkeys with chronic diarrhea.
Intestinal tissue samples taken before treatment showed that the monkeys had more bacterial attachment compared with healthy monkeys, imbalanced bacterial communities, and inflammation.
Post-treatment samples showed a reduction in bacterial attachment and inflammation and a more normal mix of bacterial communities. Four of the five monkeys gained weight and had improved fecal consistency.
A similar treatment using eggs from a pig whipworm is now being evaluated in an ongoing trial of patients with ulcerative colitis.
-- Todd Neale

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