A groundbreaking two-year human study conducted by James Cook University (JCU) has demonstrated the potential benefits of human ankylostome therapy in the treatment of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
The study, which involved 40 people with early signs of metabolic disease, found that those who received low doses of human ankylostomes showed significant improvements in insulin sensitivity and reduced inflammatory immune responses. The findings pave the way for a larger international study and offer hope for the development of new treatments for a range of chronic diseases. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications
Benefits of ankylostome therapy
Ankylostome therapy involves injecting microscopic larvae of the human ankylostome species Necator americanus into the intestines. These worms have been found to induce an anti-inflammatory response in their hosts, which may help alleviate symptoms of chronic diseases characterized by an inflammatory immune response and altered gut microbiome. This therapy has already been shown to be effective in treating diseases such as irritable bowel disease (IBD) and celiac disease.
Promising study results
In the JCU study, participants were divided into three groups: one group received 20 Ankylostoma larvae, another received 40 larvae, and the third received a placebo. After one year, those who received 20 ankylostomes showed a significant decrease in homeostatic model of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) levels, indicating improved insulin sensitivity. The group with 40 ankylostomes also showed a decrease, although somewhat less pronounced. In contrast, those who received placebo showed an increase in HOMA-IR levels over the same time period.
Positive feedback from participants
The study also found that participants were generally positive about the idea of having ankylostomes in their intestines. Of the 24 participants who received the worms, only one person decided to destroy their worms at the end of the study, and that was because of an upcoming medical procedure. This suggests that people may be willing to consider human ankylostome therapy as a potential treatment option for chronic diseases.
The success of the JCU study opens up new possibilities for the use of human ankylostome therapy in the treatment of a wide range of chronic diseases. Researchers plan to conduct a larger international trial to further explore the therapeutic potential of ankylostomes. If successful, this therapy could provide an alternative treatment option for people with chronic diseases who are seeking symptom relief and better overall health.
Dr. Doris Pearce from JCU’s Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) commented on the study results, “The trial provided significant metabolic benefits to ankylostoma-treated recipients, particularly those infected with 20 larvae. Reduced HOMA-IR values indicate a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity – results that were both clinically and statistically significant.”