Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Turning to parasites as potential disease fighters

Date:
September 9, 2013
Source:
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Summary:
Researchers have described exciting progress in harnessing the human immune system's reaction to the presence of parasitic worms, as a way to lessen susceptibility to type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, as well as for use in promoting wound healing.

There is a new weapon in the fight against autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and lupus, the common trait of which is an immune system that attacks its own organs and tissues.

William Gause, an immunologist at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, is among those leading the charge against these diseases by studying how the human body reacts to worms. The worms Gause studies, or helminths as biologists call them, are small parasites that live in human intestines, especially in the developing world.

According to an article in Nature Reviews Immunology by Gause and colleagues from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Edinburgh, the worms' presence through millennia of human evolution likely has led to an immune response called type 2 immunity. This includes immune regulatory pathways that help control the inflammation that can contribute to autoimmune diseases.

The immune reaction, the researchers say, appears to have developed as a way to rapidly repair wounds caused by these invaders as they move through the body. In fact, components of the type 2 immune response may someday be used to enhance the wound healing process. Additionally, this response triggers regulatory networks that block harmful immune responses, or inflammation, that otherwise would exacerbate the tissue injury.

"What we would like to do now is harness components of the type 2 immune response to target the control of harmful inflammation that can lead to autoimmune diseases like diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease," Gause says. He adds that inflammatory responses also have been linked to other diseases, including cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders, and even to allergic reactions and fibrosis that may result when titanium shavings that flake away from artificial joints settle in the body. "Finding new ways to stimulate these regulatory components of the type 2 immune response may provide us with a new set of tools to target the control of harmful inflammatory responses now associated with this wide array of different diseases."

For now, live helminths or helminth byproducts may be introduced into the body on a short-term basis to train compromised immune systems. A 2012 study by a Gause-led team found that the introduction of helminths for two weeks caused the immune systems of mice to produce cytokines, or signaling molecules, which gave them lasting protection against Type 1 diabetes.

That finding mirrors human experience in the developing world where helminth infection is endemic, but the incidence of autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes is extremely low.

"There is a growing body of evidence to support the hygiene hypothesis, which suggests that decreased exposure to microbes and helminths in industrialized countries may impair the development of immune regulatory networks that would otherwise control harmful inflammatory responses," Gause says.

The end result of that process, according to Gause, is increased incidence of a variety of diseases linked to harmful inflammation. "If we find a controlled way to apply the benefit that helminths appear to provide to the workings of the immune system, it is conceivable that we as a society would no longer need to endure the apparent tradeoff between clean living conditions and inflammatory diseases."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. William C. Gause, Thomas A. Wynn, Judith E. Allen. Type 2 immunity and wound healing: evolutionary refinement of adaptive immunity by helminths. Nature Reviews Immunology, 2013; 13 (8): 607 DOI: 10.1038/nri3476

Cite This Page:

Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. "Turning to parasites as potential disease fighters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909201221.htm>.
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. (2013, September 9). Turning to parasites as potential disease fighters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909201221.htm
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. "Turning to parasites as potential disease fighters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909201221.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins