Helminth Therapy - From the Parasite Perspective

Trends Parasitol. 2019 Jul;35(7):501-515. doi: 10.1016/j.pt.2019.04.009. Epub 2019 May 29.


Studies in animal models and humans suggest that intentional exposure to helminths or helminth-derived products may hold promise for treating chronic inflammatory-associated diseases (CIADs). Although the mechanisms underlying 'helminth therapy' are being evaluated, little attention has been paid to the actual organisms in use. Here we examine the notion that, because of the complexity of biological symbiosis, intact helminths rather than helminth-derived products are likely to prove more useful for clinical purposes. Further, weighing potential cost/benefit ratios of various helminths along with other factors, such as feasibility of production, we argue that the four helminths currently in use for CIAD treatments in humans were selected more by happenstance than by design, and that other candidates not yet tested may prove superior.

Keywords: Biome Depletion Theory; Hymenolepis diminuta; Necator americanus; Old Friends Hypothesis; Trichuris suis ova; helminth therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease / therapy
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Helminths / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / parasitology*
  • Inflammation / therapy*