Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Can a worm a day keep asthma at bay? Scientists develop new treatment for allergic diseases

05.09.2005


The key to preventing asthma and reducing allergies may lie in an unexpected source: parasitic worms. Researchers at Trinity College Dublin have managed to cure experimental asthma in the lab using a live worm, the first time a human parasite has been used for this purpose. Dr Padraic Fallon from the Department of Biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin will present these findings at the BA Festival of Science on Monday 5 September.



The UK and Ireland are experiencing an asthma epidemic and have some of the highest rates of asthma in the world and the prevalence of allergic diseases has more than doubled over the last two or three decades in the developed world. This is particularly marked in Irish schoolchildren, with just under a third of children aged 13-14 showing symptoms of asthma.

‘The reasons for the dramatic recent increase in allergic diseases are complex,’ says Dr Fallon. ‘We believe a major factor is the reduction in parasitic worms, and bacterial or viral infections, in modern ‘clean’ societies. This is the often quoted: “If your kids play in dirt they will not get asthma”.’


Studies have shown that people in developing countries have fewer allergies. In a study in Gabon, Africa schoolchildren that were infected with worms had lower allergic responses to house dust mites than children with no worms. When the children had their worms removed by drugs they then developed increased allergic responses.

The particular worm in question, the schistosome, is the cause of Bilharzia. As the worms feed on red blood cells and dissolved nutrients such as sugars and amino acids, they can cause anaemia and fatigue, and in some cases the victim passes red urine, tinted by blood lost through the damaged kidneys. It is thought that around 250 million people are infected with Bilharzia in the tropics.

Allergies are caused when the immune system responds to allergens, such as peanuts, dust mites and cats. This immune response can stimulate allergic diseases, including eczema, anaphylaxis and asthma. Infections with parasitic worms also induce this particular immune responses and it is argued that this type of immune response was not designed to cause allergies, but evolved to control worm infections. In modern societies where there are no longer parasitic worms present, the immune system responds to other common allergens, such as cats, and induces allergies.

At the BA Festival of Science, Dr Fallon will describe his group’s research, looking at how schistosomes alter a person’s immune response. The objective of the research is to use molecules from the schistosome worm to treat or prevent diseases, such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. Previously, his group has shown that when transgenic mice, engineered to have a high susceptibility to anaphylaxis and asthma, were infected with the worm they developed resistance to anaphylaxis.

‘We believe that this research will lead us to develop a new ways of preventing and treating asthma and anaphylaxis, which can then be extended to treat inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis,’ says Dr Fallon.

The BA Festival of Science will take place in Dublin from 3-10 September, bringing over 300 of the UK and Ireland’s top scientists and engineers to discuss the latest developments in science with the public. In addition to talks and debates at Trinity College Dublin, there will be a host of events throughout the city as part of the Science in the City programme. For further information on the BA Festival of Science, visit www.the-ba.net/festivalofscience.

The main sponsors of the BA Festival of Science are Trinity College Dublin, Discover Science and Engineering and the Department of Education and Science.

Craig Brierley | alfa
Further information:
http://www.the-ba.net/festivalofscience.

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch
22.05.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target

22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences

Achema 2018: New camera system monitors distillation and helps save energy

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>