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A new study, which will feature in the International Conference on Biotherapy being held in Los Angeles, has established that using maggots, leeches, and intestinal worms as an alternative to the pills may cure infections and allergies.
The research has been headed by Dr Ronald Sherman, an ex-infectious infection expert at the University of California in Irvine.
He informed, “There's always reluctance in any establishment to embrace change. But, once medical practitioners and therapists actually try the therapy, they are our biggest supporters."
Biotherapy, also called the ‘Old Friends Hypothesis’, is the practice of using live animals to treat diseases.
Referring to history, biotherapy was first demonstrated way back in 980 AD by Persian physicians, and William S. Baer of Johns Hopkins University made a better justification of the same in 1920. But, still it has not become a very commonly used cure.
Recently, the Federal authorities in the U.S. have identified the benefits of using worms and have permitted using maggots and leeches to help cure amputations and severe wounds.
Also, whipworms, intestinal roundworms, are known to help in taking care of the immune system. Their use in treating Crohn’s disease and common allergies has also come in light.
Supporters of biotherapy are anticipating that the health regulators will give a thumbs up to a therapy called ‘helminthic’, which is using parasitic whipworms to fight diseases like Crohn’s disease and other immunity infections.
Researchers try discovering the science behind biotherapy
Joel Weinstock from the Tufts University located near Boston, Massachusetts is currently trying to identify how worms help in curing infections.
"Many of these worms are bio-engineered for humans. We adapt to them, they adapt to us. It becomes like an organ, just like your heart, your spleen or your liver. The parasites need to turn down the human's immune defenses just a tad in order to survive. But they can't turn it down too much, or both the host and parasite would die,” he reasoned.
He added, "If it we could figure out how it works, then maybe you can design drugs to substitute for the actual worms.”
Even Sharon Shattuck, a renowned filmmaker, has made a new documentary titled ‘Parasites: A User's Guide’ to showcase the benefits of these creatures in treating infections.
She interviewed people who said that they were cured by parasites for severe allergies that they believed had ruined their social lives.
"These are people at their wits' end. But the worms are able to tap into the inflammatory response and turn it down. It acts as a soothing mechanism,” she concluded.