A new study has shown that a horrible looking monster called a ‘hookworm’ could reduce the symptoms of celiac disease.
Twelve brave participants were infected with 20 Necator americanus (hookworm) larvae, in this year-long trial. They were then given increasing doses of gluten, beginning with just one-tenth of a gram per day (the equivalent of a two-centimetre segment of spaghetti) and increasing in two further stages to a final daily dose of three grams (75 spaghetti straws).
The results were quite amazing.
“By the end of the trial, with worms onboard, the trial subjects were eating the equivalent of a medium-sized bowl of spaghetti, with no ill effects,” James Cook University (JCU) immunologist Paul Giacomin said.
In other words, a meal that would usually leave a celiac sufferer with symptoms like diarrhoea, cramps and vomiting.
Four participants withdrew in the earlier stages of the trial (for various reasons mostly unrelated to gluten) but the remaining eight experienced significant and ongoing benefits.
“The eight who stuck with the trial were able to increase their gluten tolerance by a factor of 60, a massive change,” said Alex Loukas, head of the Centre for Biodiscovery and Molecular Development of Therapeutics at JCU, and joint principal investigator of the study.
Could hookworms be the answer to many a celiac’s problems?
Would you knowingly ingest worms to be able to eat bread again?
Read the full report on this wriggly solution here.