Would you like a side of worms with that? Why a new diabetes treatment involves ingesting parasites

No, it's not a joke.

Scientists are actually testing out the theory that parasitic worms could help prevent or reverse diabetes. Is this a case of medical science going a bit too far? Some might say yes, but the theory is sound enough.

Dirt and germs are good

In the 19th century--when people didn't bathe or wash their hands with much frequency--the incidence of diabetes and other autoimmune conditions was almost non-existent. Being exposed to dirt and germs, scientists say, was precisely what activated an immunity to it. They also note that people who live in third-world countries, where access to modern conveniences like showers and sinks is limited--also have much lower rates of diabetes.

But the 19th century didn't have the junk food and obesity epidemics of today, either. Even so, scientists at Coronado Biosciences are still moving forward with worm therapy for diabetes, especially since it was shown to be successful for those with Crohn's disease.

How it works

“We give [the worms] in a solution, so it’s essentially a liquid that is a saline solution, and these eggs are microscopic; you can’t see them--they are odorless, tasteless,” Dr. Karin Hehenberger, chief medical officer of Coronado Biosciences, told Fox News.

Essentially, the worms help to "reset" the immune system so that it attacks foreign invaders, not itself.

But since the worms can only stay alive about two weeks inside the body, patients would need to have doses bi-weekly. Hehenberger notes that these types of worms cannot develop into the reproductive stage, meaning that they can't cause problems by multiplying inside the body.

Currently, three worm therapy trials are in place for diabetes--two that are based on prevention and one that is aimed at reversing existing cases of the disease.

Source: Fox News

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