- People with inflammatory bowel disease could soon be
swallowing worms in an effort to relieve their symptoms.
- Scientists in the United States have developed a
drink containing thousands of pig whipworm eggs.
- Trials suggest it can dramatically reduce the
abdominal pain, bleeding and diarrhoea associated with the
- According to a report in New Scientist, the drink,
which is called TSO, could be on sale in Europe by May if it is
approved for use by regulators.
- Effective treatment
- A number of studies have suggested that live worms
could be an effective treatment for conditions like Crohn's disease
and colitis, known collectively as inflammatory bowel disease
- In fact, some scientists believe the eradication of
worms from human stomachs over the past 50 years may be behind the
rise in these conditions.
- As the number of infections by parasites, such as
roundworms and human whipworms, has fallen, the number of people being
diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease has increased.
- In contrast, the condition is still rare in
developing countries where parasitic infections remain common.
- Scientists at the University of Iowa say they have
tested their product on 200 people with the condition. They opted for
pig whipworms because they do not survive very long in humans.
- They say symptoms disappeared in most of those who
took part in the trial. The findings are due to be announced at a
conference in the United States in May.
- "With our new impressive results, we can come out of
the closet," said Dr Joel Weinstock, a gastroenterologist at the
University who has developed the treatment.
- The product will be made by German company BioCure.
It has applied to the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal
Products for an EU-wide license to sell the product. Patients would
take TSO around twice a month.
- Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and other forms
of inflammatory bowel disease appear to be caused by an overactive
immune system, which causes inflammation in the digestive
- The condition is incurable, and normal treatments
include steroids, which can reduce the inflammation, although these
have been known to produce side effects.
- © BBC MMIV