Recent research into the clinical effectiveness of Whipworm ova (Trichuris suis) and Hookworm (Necator americanus) for the treatment of certain immunological diseases and allergies means that these organisms must be classified as Immuno-therapeutic agents. Helminthic therapy is being investigated as a potentially highly effective treatment for the symptoms and or disease process in disorders such as relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s, allergies and asthma.
The precise mechanism of how the helminths modulate the immune response, ensuring their survival in the host and incidentally effectively modulating autoimmune disease processes, is currently unknown. However, several broad mechanisms have been postulated, such as a re-polarisation of the Th1 / Th2 response, and modulation of dendritic cell function by Fujiwara and Carvalho. That helminths modulate host immune response is proven, as the core assertion of the hygiene hypothesis appears to have been, with the recent publication of a study demonstrating that co-evolution with helminths has shaped at least some of the genes associated with Interleukin expression and immunological disorders, like Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis and Celiac Disease.
Much of the research that has been published now indicates a key role, for what have been traditionally regarded as disease causing organisms, the helminths, in down regulating the pro-inflammatory Th1 cytokines, IL-12 (Interleukin-12), Interferon-Gamma (IFN-γ) and Tumour Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF-ά), while promoting the production of regulatory Th2 cytokines such as IL-10 IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13.
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011