Helminth immunomodulation is being researched to treat Crohn's disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Type 1 Diabetes. Has anyone come across any research into the treatment of ITP using parasitic worms (helminths)?
It is thought that the worms reduce certain immune responses which help restore homeostasis. The best summary I have found is on Wikipedia. I have seen research papers which have examined the therapy for Crohn's disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Type 1 Diabetes. However, I have yet to see whether anyone has looked into Helminth therapy as a possible treatment for ITP:
"Most autoimmune disorders are believed to involve hyperactive TH1 or TH17 immune responses that are down-regulated by the promotion of a TH2 response by helminths. Helminths secrete immunoregulatory molecules that promote the induction of regulatory T cells while inhibiting the function of antigen presenting cells and other T cells. As such, helminthic therapy attempts to restore homeostasis by shifting a hyperactive TH1 pro-inflammatory response to a TH2 response with reduced inflammation."
The way I have understood this therapy is that after a person gets the parasites implanted, the immune system starts attacking the parasites and leaves the platelets alone. What I have read: Historically humans have evolved with all kinds of parasites. Now we live in a rather sterile environment compared to the 200,000+ years prior. The thinking as I understand it, is that the immune system now doesn't have enough to do, or doesn't function well without parasites.
?I dunno know, interesting idea.? Amusingly, I have read that some people who get these parasites implanted have trouble keeping them alive. The parasites die off so the people are kept busy tending their parasites to keep them healthy. (*_*)
Yes, this is pretty much how I understand the process of Helminthic therapy too. What I have read is that the parasitic worms are ingested usually as worm eggs which don't have the ability to reproduce. This means that they will die off after a certain time and a new load will have to be administered.
Ok that makes sense. I wasn't aware that they were eggs that a person swallowed. I read about this a few years ago and I believe it was not legal in the USA so people were going to Mexico to get it done. It all was pretty expensive with travel along with the helminth, so people were really wanting to keep their little critters alive and working. I wonder if it is legal in the USA. Here is an excerpt from wiki that explains the concept and problem of autoimmune disorders being more common in developed countries. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helminthic_therapy
There is evidence that one of the primary reasons for the increase in autoimmune diseases in industrialized nations is the significant change in environmental factors over the last century. It is posited that the absence of exposure to certain parasites, bacteria, and viruses is playing a significant role in the development of autoimmune diseases in the more sanitized and industrialized Western nations.
Lack of exposure to naturally occurring pathogens and parasites may result in an increased incidence of autoimmune diseases. Correlational data has shown the prevalence of helminthic infections to be greatest south of the equator where the rates of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis are low. This is consistent with the hygiene hypothesis which suggests that helminthic infections protect individuals from developing auto-immune diseases rather than being an agent responsible for inducing them. A complete explanation of how environmental factors play a role in autoimmune diseases has still not been proposed.
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