Crohn’s disease is common in highly industrialised Western countries where helminths are rare and uncommon in less developed areas of the world where most people carry worms.
Helminths diminish immune responsiveness in naturally colonised humans and reduce inflammation in experimental colitis.
Exposure to helminths may help prevent or even ameliorate Crohn’s disease.
Dr Summers and colleagues from Iowa, America undertook a study with in order to determine the safety and possible efficacy of the intestinal helminth Trichuris suis in the treatment of patients with active Crohn’s disease.
The researchers enrolled 29 patients with active Crohn’s disease, defined by a Crohn’s disease activity index (CDAI) 220 in this open label study.
The investigators administered 2500 live T suis ova every 3 weeks for 24 weeks to all patients, and then monitored disease activity by CDAI.
| At week 24, 79% responded to T suis therapy and 72% remitted|
Remission was defined as a decrease in CDAI to less than 150 while a response was defined as a decrease in CDAI of greater than 100.
The researchers found that at week 24, 79% responded (decrease in CDAI >100 points or CDAI <150) and 72% remitted (CDAI <150).
In addition, the research team noted that the mean CDAI of responders decreased 177.1 points below baseline.
Analysis at week 12 yielded similar results.
There were no adverse events.
Dr Summers concluded, "This new therapy may offer a unique, safe, and efficacious alternative for Crohn’s disease management."
"These findings also support the premise that natural exposure to helminths such as T suis affords protection from immunological diseases like Crohn’s disease."