International journal for parasitology | 28 Nov 2012
JV Weinstock and DE Elliott
Modern hygienic lifestyles are associated with the emergence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which now afflicts millions of people in highly-developed countries. Meticulous hygiene interrupts conduits of transmission required for ubiquitous exposure to parasitic worms (helminths). We proposed that loss of exposure to helminths permits development of IBD. Early clinical trials suggested that exposure to helminths such as Trichuris suis or Necator americanus can improve IBD. Over the last several years, processes to “medicinalize"T. suis have been developed and use of this helminth is now being studied in large multi-center clinical trials. Concurrently, we and others have identified some of the immune regulatory mechanisms elicited by helminth exposure that suppress inappropriate intestinal inflammation. These efforts could soon result in new therapies for patients with IBD.
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