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Byline: By Mike Swain Michael ("Mike") Lee Swain (born December 21, 1960 in Elizabeth, New Jersey) is one of the most successful American judokas. He competed in three consecutive Summer Olympics, starting in 1984.  

ALLERGY sufferers are being given blood-sucking worms to test asthma and hay fever hay fever, seasonal allergy causing inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose and eyes. It is characterized by itching about the eyes and nose, sneezing, a profuse watery nasal discharge, and tearing of the eyes.  cures.

The world's first clinical trial is under way to test the worms as a treatment for allergies, ulcers and Crohn's disease Crohn's disease: see colitis. .

They could also be used in multiple sclerosis and transplant treatments.

Tropical hookworms are put on volunteers' arms and covered with a patch as they burrow inside the body to the gut.

Since the 1970s, scientists have been baffled why people in developing countries with worms don't suffer allergies.

Doctors studied hookworms in New Guinea to investigate how they protect humans from diseases common in rich countries.

They found the worms dampen down the immune system immune system

Cells, cell products, organs, and structures of the body involved in the detection and destruction of foreign invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. Immunity is based on the system's ability to launch a defense against such invaders.
 so they can live inside the body for up to five years.

Allergies are caused by an over-active immune system.

Professor David Pritchard, of Nottingham University, who has tested the worms on himself, said: "If you have too many, they bleed you. You end up with iron deficiency iron deficiency A relative or absolute deficiency of iron which may be due to chelation in the GI tract, loss due to acute or chronic hemorrhage or dietary insufficiency Sources Meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables, cereals, especially if fortified with iron; per the  and anaemia anaemia

see anemia.

The first 10 volunteers were given 10, 25, 50 or 100 worms.

Professor Pritchard added: "On that basis, we decided that 10 worms are safe."

The volunteers are given a tablet to clean out the worms at the end of the six-week trials.

A study in Ethiopia found that hookworms protect people from dustmites, the most common cause of asthma in the UK.

Professor Pritchard said: "We have to conduct the relevant safety studies to make sure we don't make people with a lung disease lung disease Pulmonary disease Pulmonology Any condition causing or indicating impaired lung function Types of LD Obstructive lung disease–↓ in air flow caused by a narrowing or blockage of airways–eg, asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis;  any worse.

"We have just finished that stage of the trial and we can categorically say that we have not made things any worse.

"We can't say yet whether we have made things any better but the message is, so far so good."


PARASITES: Hook worms burrow into the skin
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 15, 2007
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