Can Parasitic Worms Cure the Modern World's Ills?

Trends Parasitol. 2017 Sep;33(9):694-705. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2017 Jun 9.


There has been increasing recognition that the alarming surge in allergy and autoimmunity in the industrialised and developing worlds shadows the rapid eradication of pathogens, such as parasitic helminths. Appreciation of this has fuelled an explosion in research investigating the therapeutic potential of these worms. This review considers the current state-of-play with a particular focus on exciting recent advances in the identification of potential novel targets for immunomodulation that can be exploited therapeutically. Furthermore, we contemplate the prospects for designing worm-derived immunotherapies for an ever-widening range of inflammatory diseases, including, for example, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and ageing as well as neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / prevention & control
  • Helminthiasis / immunology*
  • Helminths / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Immunotherapy / trends