Intestinal worms could prevent the development of type 1 diabetes, according to a new study published in the journal Mucosal Immunology.
Researchers from the New Jersey Medical School in America suggest that short-term infection with intestinal worms provide protection against the type 1 form of the disease, which is less common than type 2 diabetes, especially in developing countries.
One of the reasons behind the low rates of type 1 diabetes in developing nations is believed to be the prevalence of chronic intestinal worm infections, which dampen the self-aggressive T cells that cause autoimmune diseases such as diabetes .
To understand exactly how T cells are tamed during worm infection, William Gause and colleagues from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey conducted an intestinal worm study on mice.
They found that a two-week infection with the intestinal worm H. polygyrus prompted the cells to produce the cytokines (small protein molecules) interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-10, which acted independently to provide long-term protection against type 1 diabetes .
The researchers said a similar approach using eggs from another parasitic worm, Trichuris suis, is currently being tested in clinical trials in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and Crohn’s disease.

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