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Can a worm parasite protect against autoimmune diseases?

Allergies and autoimmune diseases caused by a dysregulation of the immune system. Researchers have succeeded in reprogramming with intestinal parasites the relevant immune cells.Autoimmune diseases

Allergies, multiple sclerosis, diabetes mellitus type 1 – in many diseases play a role autoimmune reactions. The body directs its defense cells against itself, and it comes to excessive inflammatory responses. Researchers at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg have now found a new approach, such as autoimmune reactions can be inhibited. The unusual helper is a worm parasite. The larvae of the worm Nippostrongylus brasiliensis can protect against excessive reactions of the immune system obviously.

The starting point of the experiments was the fact that occur in rare countries with lower hygiene standards autoimmune diseases. „One hypothesis is that infection with intestinal parasites, which are common in these countries, can protect against unwanted immune responses, such as allergy and autoimmunity, “said the study leader. The researchers have now been able to show that in mice that were infected with the parasite, which are responsible for immune responses Th1 and Th17 Auto cells can be reprogrammed to Th2 cells. Th2 cells in turn have an inhibitory effect on the Th1 and Th17 mediated by the cell immune responses.

Reprogramming of T cells protects the body.

The T-helper cells play a crucial role in the immune defense. They usually strong for us in the body penetrate into pathogens. Among other things, they activate macrophages that fight bacteria and viruses. But specific T helper cells can also be directed against your own body and cause severe inflammatory reactions there. Especially helper cells of type Th1 and Th17 are involved in autoimmune processes. The worm parasite can reprogram these lines to the Th2 cells, it has a positive effect on our immune system.

In the US, a therapy is already approved, based on a similar mode of action. This occurring in pigs nematode Trichuris suis is used against chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Through the therapy go back the inflammatory processes. A detailed explanation as yet there is not, but perhaps is also running a reprogramming of T cells instead. The team of Prof. Vöhringer wants to find out which components of worms affect the immune system now, to then use these insights for therapeutic purposes.