1 Apr 2010

Hookworms

From Our Changing World, 9:46 pm on 1 April 2010

Graham Le Gros and Mali Camberis

It is estimated that about a billion people around the world are infected with human hookworm, and Graham Le Gros (right) and Mali Camberis (left) from the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research are researching these nematodes in the hope of developing a vaccine.

By studying the hookworms' life cycle and the molecules they produce, the scientists also hope to find treatments for various diseases. The concept being part of the hygiene hypothesis, that while hookworms can cause various negative side effects like iron deficiency anaemia, they have also developed strategies for modulating the human immune system, strategies which may have some benefit for the prevention of inflammatory diseases like Crohn's disease. Another possibility is that by looking at how the human body responds to the allergens that hookworms produce, they may provide insights for diseases like asthma.

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