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Hookworm secretion has some very interesting properties
Could a tropical intestinal parasite be the key to curing asthma? In laboratory tests on human cells, researchers found that a protein from hookworms reduces the symptoms of allergies. With this protein, doctors may be able to develop pills for the treatment of asthma in the future.
The Australian scientists from James Cook University in Cairns found in an investigation that a protein secretion from tropical hookworms could possibly be used to cure some allergies. The doctors have now issued a press release on the subject. In addition, the results of the study were published in the journal "Science Translational Medicine".
Protein suppresses asthma in mice
The protein found is able to suppress asthma in mice, the scientists explain. Tests of human cells from asthma patients indicate that hookworm protein could also be a promising candidate for the treatment of people with allergies.
Hackworm infection helps people with celiac disease
The new study builds on previous research into the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The experts had already classified an experimental hookworm infection as an anti-inflammatory treatment for people with celiac disease. After our first success with IBD, asthma was our next logical goal, says Dr. Severine Navarro from James Cook University. Although IBD and asthma are very different, there is one thing in common. This is the defect in the regulation of the immune system, which leads to inflammatory processes.
Treatment targets inflammation from autoimmune diseases and allergies
So that the parasitic worms can survive in the human intestine and remain undetected, the hookworms regulate the immune response of their human host. We are now aiming to control the inappropriate inflammation that is characteristic of autoimmune diseases and allergies, explains Dr. Navarro.
Protein suppresses inflammatory reactions
The doctors tested a recombinant form of the protein on mice and human cells. When treated with the worm protein, mice showed extensive suppression of inflammatory responses after exposure to allergens, the Australian specialists say.
T cells become anti-inflammatory through protein
Our previous work on inflammatory bowel diseases has determined that hookworm proteins switch so-called T cells from inflammatory to anti-inflammatory, explains Dr. Navarro. The good news is that this not only protects the intestines, but also other organs. These include the respiratory tract in which asthma develops, the doctor adds.
AIP-2 can help many people with allergies
The AIP-2 protein has already been tested on human cells. AIP-2 could be used as a possible treatment for allergies in the future. Such allergies affect almost a billion people worldwide. In Australia alone, these allergies cost more than $ 9 billion annually, the authors say.
Medical professionals isolate AIP-2 from the worm's secretion
The new study also represents an important step in exploiting the therapeutic potential of hookworm proteins, said Professor Loukas of James Cook University. When we first tested IBD, we infected some participants with actual hookworms, the scientists explain. Since then, we have found that the protective properties of hookworms lie in their oral secretions. In this way, the doctors were able to isolate the most frequently occurring protein AIP-2 in the secretion mixture.
Will pills for asthma and autoimmune diseases soon be developed?
In the asthma study, a recombinant form of AIP-2 was used, the scientists report, "This means that we can now produce the protein in large quantities," researchers further explain. The mice were then treated intranasally and by injections. This exciting development supports hope for the successful development of appropriate medicines. This applies not only to asthma, but also to other inflammatory diseases and autoimmune diseases, according to the researchers' Faizt. (as)