Multiple Sclerosis hookworm trial for RRMS patients
The University of Nottingham is recruiting people, suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, on a trial that involves the infection of patients with a low, harmless dose of the helminth parasite Necator americanus (hookworm).
Professor Pritchard said: “This study appears counter-intuitive — we are introducing a parasite which is by definition harmful, to act as a stimulus to moderate disease. As a safeguard the hookworms are being used in carefully controlled and monitored conditions, and if successful could herald a much-needed therapy for MS patients".
50% of the patients on the trial will receive a low dose of the hookworms-25 microscopic larvae-on an arm plaster, whereas the other half will receive a placebo plaster. When the larvae will come into contact with the skin, they will enter the blood stream and will reach the lungs. They will ultimately, be coughed up and swallowed to get to their final destination-the gut. Here,ost's blood. they survive by sticking to the gut lining and feeding on the host. The worms do not multiply in the host but reproduce by producing fertile eggs, which are expelled in faecal matter. These hatch into infective larvae outside the body, and are used to infect patients.
This treatment might be helpful because it will switch on the TH2 cell pathway (to fight the parasites) and will switch off the TH1 pathway involved in the Multiple Sclerosis mechanism.