The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Aug 25, 2012
 

Pig parasite may help treat autoimmune disorders

 
 

BOSTON (REUTERS) - If you had a chronic and potentially debilitating condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn's disease, and swallowing the eggs of a pig parasite could help, would you do it? The team at Coronado Biosciences Inc is betting you would.

The Burlington, Massachusetts, company is developing what it hopes will be the first in a new class of treatments for autoimmune conditions. Each dose of the drug consists of thousands of microscopic parasite eggs, culled from pig faeces, suspended in a tablespoon of saline solution to be swallowed.

In a pig, the eggs would grow into mature whipworms and reproduce, without harming their host. In humans, the same eggs barely survive two weeks.

Yet in that short period they appear to modulate a patient's immune system and prevent it from attacking the body's own tissues and organs.