Could drinking a cocktail of worm eggs help patients with multiple sclerosis? It sounds like medieval witchcraft, but the Food and Drug Administration, which vets all drug trials in the U.S., has just sanctioned a study to see if the gruesome mixture can ease the symptoms of the disease.
Once the eggs are inside the body, they will hatch into worms that live in the gut. It is hoped they will then stimulate the release of a certain type of immune system cell that will allow the body to heal the damage done by MS.
The trial was given the go ahead after a study last year in Argentina revealed that MS patients who had parasitic worms living in their intestines suffered significantly fewer relapses in their condition than a separate group that was worm-free.
Multiple sclerosis affects an estimated 85,000 people in the UK and is incurable. The disease appears to be caused by a chemical found naturally in the body, called interferon gamma. Under normal circumstances, this chemical helps to activate the immune system to attack foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. But for reasons which remain unclear, in people with MS, the chemical can also cause the immune system to turn against the very body it is supposed to protect.
As a result, the immune system goes into overdrive, attacking nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Gradually, the protective coating which shields these nerves - called the myelin sheath - starts to break down and the transmission of signals between nerve cells slows down and becomes irregular.
Source - Daily Mail