Limited helminth-delivered immunotherapy shows promise for inflammatory bowel disease — 4 study insights

Helminths or host-dependent worms are helping to fight inflammatory bowel disease, Medpage Today reports.

Melinda Engevik, PhD, a Houston-based Baylor College of Medicine postdoctoral fellow, offered an expert critique of helminth-delivered immunotherapies.

Here's what you should know.

1. Researchers believe limited helminth exposure could relate to a reduction in inflammatory bowel disease incidence rate.

2. Helminths control immune responses in hosts. Researchers theorize helminths are suppressing immune-mediated chronic inflammation.

3. Helminths could regulate the host through three possibly pathways:

  • By altering immune response to antigens
  • By promoting colonization of intestinal microbes
  • By restoring IL-22 and intestinal mucus production

4. Mice-based studies have been the most successful, but clinical trial success has been lacking. Dr. Engevik believes that "harnessing the bioactive molecules and signaling pathways helminths use to promote homeostasis could be a viable alternative." She suggests researchers focus future work on understanding helminth-derived immunomodulation.

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