Helminthic therapy and sepsis

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    Is sepsis the result of a depleted biome and could its toll be reduced by helminth replacement?

    Sepsis is hard to diagnose and treat, and is killing more people in developed countries. [1]

    In the UK, sepsis claims more lives each year than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined and, in 2004, it was the ninth leading cause of disease-related deaths in US hospitals. It is also currently the most expensive condition treated, so a huge drain on healthcare resources. [2]

    Although researchers identified a biomarker for sepsis in the blood in 2013, which could possibly be utilised to create a test to diagnose the condition within two hours by screening at a patient's bedside [3] the available treatments were rapidly diminishing by 2014, and some were no longer working. [4]

    Sepsis is of particular concern because it is an increasing cause of complications and death among women in the West, where rates of severe and fatal sepsis during labor and delivery are rising sharply, such that sepsis became the leading cause of direct maternal death in the UK in 2013. [5]

    While certain conditions are known to increase the risk of severe and fatal sepsis, many cases occur in women with no recognised risk factors, so what is causing sepsis in these cases? Could it be the helminth deficiency that is now almost universal in developed countries?

    We know that the exacerbated pro-inflammatory immune responses that occur during sepsis might be effectively countered, and prevented, if patients were hosting helminths. [6] And the human protein, resistin, which is turned on in humans by a helminth infection, may help in the treatment of sepsis. [7] (Media comment on this study here.)

    Chronic filarial infection can provide protection against bacterial sepsis by functionally reprogramming macrophages [8] and a worm protein has been shown to reduce inflammation and mortality from sepsis in mice. [9]

    In March 2017, the first effective treatment for sepsis was announced. The protocol, developed by Dr. Paul Marik, uses intravenous vitamin C with hydrocortisone and the B vitamin, thiamine. Of 150 patients treated with the protocol for severe sepsis and septic shock, only one went on to die from the sepsis itself, thus reducing the usual sepsis mortality rate from 30-50 percent utilising standard treatment protocols to less than 1 percent. [10] [11] [12] (video)

    It will inevitably take time for the Marik protocol to be adopted into medical practice, but anyone wishing to avoid sepsis can protect themselves immediately by adding a modest number of mutualistic helminths to their biome, as well as ensuring that they are getting adequate amounts of vitamin D [13] and zinc. [14]