“The Worm Returns”
An excellent, and very readable, paper from 2013 by Dr. Joel Weinstock.
Global Distribution of Autoimmune Disease and Helminths
Nobody Does It Better: 2013, Dr. William Parker, PhD., Duke University
This pretty much says it all.
2011, FDA Import Alert: Worms are drugs ?
Podcast with Dr. William Parker, PhD. , Jan. 2012
42 minutes with Dr. William Parker, PhD., Jan. 2012.
“One day, in about twenty years, as part of your routine exam, your physician will check your cholesterol to make sure it’s healthy, and at the same time, he will also check your helminthes to make sure they are healthy, as well.”
2014 Article on Helminthic Therapy: Genome Sequenced
Just a more recent article on helminthic therapy. I would take issue with the statements at the end of the article, however.
“Contrarily, the ‘”human whipworm,” Trichuris trichiura, is more harmful, and not good for use medicinally, as it causes roundworm infection. It affects about one billion people, who mostly live in developing countries, and causes dysentery, malnourishment, and impairment of physical and mental development.”
In an uncontrolled infection, as might occur in the wild or in squalid conditions of poverty, this could be a true statement. But I believe it has been demonstrated that, human adapted whipworm, i.e. Trichuris Trichiura, can be very useful in ulcerative colitis, and perhaps other disease conditions, as well.
There is a suspicion amongst worm therapy advocates of skullduggery from the FDA, and big pharma. If this is true, then, in my humble opinion, it is unnecessary. I think there is room at the worm buffet table for everyone, whether homecrafter, or multi-million dollar research biotech. company. For example, tame worms with superior qualities could be developed. Molecules could be isolated and applied in specific cases. And perhaps most importantly, there are worms like, Dracunculus, Filarial Nematodes, Strongyloides, Trichinella, various Cestodes, and Schistosomes, that really do present increased risk, but nevertheless have potential for treating disease. These opportunities can likely be best exploited by well heeled, large, pharmaceutical companies. Therefore, I don’t believe there is a need for a “winner take all” attitude when it comes to worms.
”Epidemic of Absence” by Moises Velasquez-Manoff , copyright 2012. Available from Amazon. This timely book well explores the topic of human biome depletion, and the hygiene hypothesis. I recommend it to anyone considering biome reconstitution. It’s about a lot more than just worms.
”People, Plowshares, and Parasites” by Dickson Despommier, copyright 2013, also available on Amazon. It is worth looking this book up just for the charming cover photo of the toothy, human adapted, hookworm, Ancylostoma Duodenale. If you listen to many of the podcasts of TWiP (This Week in Parasitology), then this will not be new information to you. I logged about 40 hours of TWiP’s, so this was kind of old hat to me. However, if you want the information, without the back and forth banter between Dickson and Vincent Racaniello, then this book could be valuable too. The premise is contained in the title. Perhaps, it is time for the People and Parasites to stop making war on each other, beat our swords into Plowshares, and beginning cooperating for the betterment of all.
2014: The Evidence Continues To Mount
“At weaning, the pups from worm-infected mothers were given their own dose of tapeworms. Once they reached adulthood, they did not display the immune system sensitization, cognitive impairment and behavioral changes typically seen in rats exposed to an early immune system stressor.
Most importantly, there were no changes in microglia structure.”
In Evolution, The Inevitable May Soon Become The Necessary
[This excerpt is shortened for clarity and brevity from the original source]
‘In 1966, microbiologist Kwang Jeon was studying single-celled amoebae, when his amoebae communities were hit by a plague of bacteria. Thousands of tiny invaders — named x-bacteria by Jeon — infected each amoeba, causing them to become very sick. Only a few amoebae survived the epidemic.
Months later, the surviving amoebae, and their descendants, seemed to be unexpectedly healthy. Had the amoebae finally managed to fight off the x-bacterial infection? Jeon and his colleagues were surprised to find that the answer was no — the x-bacteria were still thriving inside their amoebae hosts, but they no longer made the amoebae sick. There were more surprises when Jeon used antibiotics to kill the bacteria inside an amoeba — the host amoeba also died! The amoebae could no longer live without their former attackers. Jeon discovered that this was because the bacteria produce a protein that the amoebae needs to survive. The nature of the relationship between the two species had changed entirely. They stopped attacking and defending, and instead to began to cooperate.
Jeon’s colonies of amoebae now seem perfectly happy living with the x-bacteria, inside of them. In fact, they now need them to survive.’
The point of this educational material in this context is: The bacteria, in a very short amount of time, went from being a pathogen, to being a necessary symbiont. Too apply that to human history, intestinal parasites have been with us since time immemorial, since before humans became humans. Getting worms was practically inevitable. So we may fairly wonder, since they were historically inevitable, may they not then also be necessary ?
Extra credit reading on this topic:
Evidence of horizontal gene transfer between parasite and host.
2014 World Health Organization Fact Sheet: “Soil-transmitted Helminth infections”
RadioLab interviews with parasitologist, author, and professor emeritus at Columbia University, Dickson Despommier.
Also included, the intrepid Jasper Lawrence, founder of AIT, and pioneering advocate of helminthic therapy.
Silent film from the 1920’s, put out by the Rockefeller Foundation:
“This educational drama was created by the International Health Board (later the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation) in order to teach Southern rural communities in the United States about hookworm. Shown at fairs and other public events, “Unhooking the Hookworm” provides an early example of the innovative use of film to educate communities about public health issues.”
April, 27, 2010, ABC Radio National Podcast, “A Hookworm Saved My Life”. 31 minutes run time. An interview with Jasper Lawrence founder of AIT. Paraphrasing Jasper, ‘Helminth Therapy is a medical discovery equal in importance to the discovery of antibiotics.’
2010 The Scientist magazine article, “New Gut Ecosystem Model”
2011, This Week In Parasitism, episode # 22; “Hookworms”. An entertaining and educational podcast by virologist, Vincent Racaniello, and parasitologist, Dickson Despommier, 97 minutes.
This Week in Parasitism, episode #20, “The Whipworm, Trichuris Trichiura”, 89 minutes
2004 Volume 58, Book series; “Advances in Parasitology” Natural History Museum, London UK: “Human Hookworm Infection in the 21st Century” ; Biology, Immunology, Epidemiology, Public Health Significance and Control of Hookworms, and Forward Look to Study of This Parasite in the 21st Century. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2268732/
2012, Science Direct article, originally published in the International Journal Parasitology, Volume 43, Issues 3–4, March 2013, Pages 225–231, “The Hookworm Pharmacopoeia for Inflammatory Diseases”
2010 University of Manchester, News Article, “How The Parasitic Worm Has Turned” http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/article/?id=5841
2010, Evolution & Medicine Review article, by William Parker, Duke University. “Reconstituting The Depleted Biome To Prevent Immune Disorders”
2008 NY Times article, “The Worms Crawl In”