Curio #484 – Allergy sufferers cry no more
An amusing fact for October 30, 2014 from Justin Kitch, Curious CEO
If you suffer from severe allergies, like I do, then just get hookworms! After decades of almost no medical advances, they may offer a cure to auto-immune diseases like allergies, Crohn’s disease and arthritis. Sure, hookworms are parasites that invade your intestines and cause chronic diarrhea, iron deficiency, malnutrition and dysentery. But new evidence shows the translucent little critters help people suppress allergies. Immunologist-biologist David Pritchard conceived this theory after noticing Papua New Guineans didn’t suffer autoimmune-related illnesses after being infected with the Necator americanus hookworm. He theorized victims of the parasite turned off their immune systems in order to survive. So Prichard recruited brave participants who struggled so mightily with allergies and asthma they were willing to be infected with 10 hookworms. After 6 weeks, the immune systems of those infected with hookworms were suppressed, and they were producing much lower levels of inflammatory or allergic response. Trial participants were so excited about the results of this helminthic therapy–that’s what they call remedies involving parasites–that they opted to keep their hookworms. A Silicon Valley entrepreneur even started a Mexican clinic to offer the unproven therapy, at a cost of $3,900. I might actually pay that kind of money, but not sure I could handle the worms-in-my-intestines part.