London – A molecule produced by parasitic worms may lead to a new treatment for asthma, according to a study released on Wednesday by the University of Edinburgh.
It is known that people, who live in countries where parasitic worms are common, are less likely to have asthma. But until now, little was known about how this works.
A team led by researchers from the university analysed parasites called roundworms, which live in the intestines of people and animals.
In the worms’ secretions, they identified a molecule called HpARI that blocks key signals between cells of the immune system associated with allergic responses.
Studies with mice found that treatment with HpARI helped stop allergic reactions similar to those seen in asthma, according to the team.
By identifying this new protein, the team has found a new method of suppressing the allergic responses which cause asthma, and “in the future we hope to develop this toward further treatments for allergic disease”, said author Dr. Henry McSorley of the university.
The study has been published in the journal Immunity.