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Endo-parasites and helpful organisms

Intestinal Worm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parasitic worm in pigs could help relieve symptoms of multiple sclerosis(16/06/14)

The pig whipworm could help treat people suffering from arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and autism.

Medical experts are excited at the unlikely new hope a parasitic worm found in pigs could offer across a suite of illnesses and ailments.

University of Melbourne has for the first time mapped the genes of the pig whipworm, which could lead to new drugs and treatments for auto-immune disorders.

The pig whipworm causes death in livestock, but it does not harm humans, and there is even evidence it can lessen symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease.

In auto-immune disorders the immune system mistakenly attacks their body’s own tissues.

Already the pig whipworm is being used as medicine for treating inflammatory bowel diseases.

“It seems to affect the immune system by suppressing some of the inflammation,” the university’s Faculty of Veterinary Science Dr Aaron Jex said.

“The goal is to see if we can identify what it is doing in the body and how you could mimic that with a drug.”

Understanding the genetic make up of the parasite that infects animals will also help scientists better understand the human whipworm, which infects an estimated one billion people worldwide.

Dr Jex said people can become infected with the human form of the parasite after ingesting food or water with the eggs in it.

It can lead to dysentery, malnourishment and, in children in particular, it can lead to problems in physical and mental development.

The whipworm, which is between 2cm and 4cm in length, implants it’s front end in the intestinal wall and its body sticks out, like the handle of a whip.

“The long thin head is what it uses to feed in the intestinal wall,” Dr Jex said.

The adult worm secretes enzymes that breaks down cells in their host.

For the past two years Dr Jex has been sequencing the pig whipworm’s genome, working in collaboration with 11 institutions in six countries.

The paper, published in the journal Nature Genetics today, states that understanding the worm’s genetic make-up should enable the design of urgently needed drugs to treat the human form of the disease.

Dr Jex said the human whipworm is predominately found in south east Asia in rural or remote areas, particularly where there are inadequate sewerage systems.

There is one treatment that is currently being distributed to children in countries most at risk, but alternatives are needed to prevent drug resistance.

Source: Herald Sun Copyright News Ltd 2014 (16/06/14)