Helminthic therapy and neurodegenerative disease

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    Neurodegenerative disease is a result of the progressive loss of structure or function of neurons, potentially leading ultimately to cell death.

    Neurodegenerative diseases include:

    The potential for helminthic therapy to help in addressing neurodegenerative disease can be seen most strikingly in multiple sclerosis, which responds extremely well to the presence of helminths.

    There are also indications that helminths may help in both treating and preventing Parkinson's disease.

    Helminthic therapy may also have potential in preventing dementia.

    And there is one tentatively positive report of benefit in dementia.

    I am currently helping someone with dementia. She has been taking NA for one year and whilst we have nothing remotely scientific, her doctors and her husband are pleased that she has not declined and may have some improvements. Early days.” [1]

    A 2019 review paper in the journal, Neuropsychiatry, suggested that helminthic therapy may have value in treating other neurodegenerative diseases.

    Although the molecular mechanism of synaptic damage and neuronal loss in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease dementia (PD) and Lewy body dementia (LBD), frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is poorly understood and differ among different types of neurodegenerative processes, however, the presence of neuroinflammation is a common feature of all these dementia. In the advanced stage of neurodegenerative diseases of the late onset, both innate and adaptive immunity are key determinants of the progression of clinical symptoms of neurodegeneration. Therefore, it can be suggested that immunomodulation of chronic inflammation along with attenuation of humoral and cellular autoimmune reactions may be a universal strategy aimed at suppressing the progression of clinical symptoms and improving the current neuronal function in various neurodegenerative diseases. A promising direction for the development of symptomatic neurodegenerative therapy may be the use of immunomodulatory capabilities of our “old” friends” - parasitic worms and intestinal microflora. Both intestinal bacteria and parasitic worms have evolved together with the immune system of mammals for millennia and have become equisitely powerful immunomodulators, capable of altering and suppressing host immune responses, contributing to slow down excessive inflammatory and autoimmune responses. More recent studies also show that the interaction between intestinal parasites and intestinal microflora significantly changes their immunomodulatory capacity; microflora help helminths modulate host immunity. Presumably human lymphocytes after the ex vivo cultures in the presence of intestinal parasites and gut microbiota (“ménage à trois” system) will be more beneficial for the treatment of patients with dementia. Undoubtedly, many basic and preclinical studies must precede the development of procedures and recommendations for the treatment of late-onset neurodegeneration in humans with the help of parasitic worms and intestinal microflora. It seems, however, that this can be a very promising universal therapy, as the dysregulation of inflammatory and autoimmune reactions is significantly present in various neurodegenerative diseases.

    The paper is worth reading in full by anyone interested in this particular application.

    See also