Think the cockroach up the nose was as deep into body-horror as we could get? Think again! A bunch of Queensland hospitals are starting trials that will attempt to treat coeliac disease with…
Yep! Up to 60 participants are going to voluntarily inoculate themselves with hookworms (or a placebo, because that’s how clinical trials work). The worms will then mosey on down into the patients’ stomachs and intestines and… cure their coeliac symptoms, somehow???
Coeliac disease is a congenital condition in which the body responds abnormally to gluten, causing gastrointestinal upsets, fatigue, weight loss, and a whole raft of other extremely annoying (and sometimes debilitating) symptoms. The condition affects around 50,000 Australians; currently, the main treatment is a gluten-free diet.
However, according to doctors running a similar study in 2015, there are suspicions that hookworms – which in case you weren’t 100% sure, are a human parasite – secrete an anti-inflammatory substance that alleviates the symptoms of coeliac disease.
Lead researcher for this year’s trial, immunologist Dr Paul Giacomin, told the ‘Courier Mail’ that he hopes that this worm-study will eventually lead to a non-worm treatment – something more like a pill, or even a “worm molecule yoghurt” (yes, Paul, that is much more appealing than straight worms).
An earlier trial of the hookworm therapy saw 12 people with coeliac disease miraculously become able to eat a whole bowl of God’s food (pasta) every day for two weeks without triggering any of their symptoms. Coeliacs of Australia, keep an eye on this one, and maybe start conditioning yourself: hookworms aren’t so bad, right?
Source: Courier Mail.