For Health, A Dose Of Worms

By Gary Mott

Nov. 28, 2011

Trichuris Suis pig whipworm

Trichuris suis, or pig whipworm, may hold promise for treating autoimmune disorders. (Universidad de Córdoba/Wikimedia)

BOSTON — Burlington, Mass.–based Coronado Biosciences is creating buzz in the medical community for betting that worms can treat autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.

Dr. Bobby Sandage, president and CEO of Coronado, has administered whipworm eggs, harvested from pigs in Europe, to MS patients in the relapse/remittance stage of the disease. Once in the body, the eggs hatch and the worms cause the re-regulation of the immune system. That results in less of the inflammation that is the hallmark of autoimmune diseases.

After doing their work, the worms “die and are simply shed from the body harmlessly,” Sandage said. “Because this is such a natural triggering of the total immune system we actually have a real interest,” with researchers pursuing applications for other autoimmune diseases.

This research is currently in the early stages of testing.

Learn more about the research.

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