Could a spoonful of worm eggs help patients to fight the crippling symptoms of a nerve disease? Perhaps, say scientists who suggest that patients with multiple sclerosis can benefit from certain types of parasitic infection.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the body’s own defence cells attack protective nerve tissue. This can cause pain and problems with vision, movement, memory and thinking. But scientists in Argentina have published a study claiming that these symptoms of the disease may be lessened in people whose immune system has been affected by a parasite.
The scientists, who report their work in Annals of Neurology, studied 24 people with multiple sclerosis for more than four years, half of whom became infected with parasites after they were diagnosed with MS1. Among the patients with parasites, there were only three clinical relapses, compared with 56 in the non-infected group. And only half of the infected patients incurred brain lesions from MS, compared with all of the non-infected patients.