Pig Worm Concoction to Treat Bowel Disease
Early trials of the beverage called TSO, which was developed by the German company BioCure, were so successful in patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that the firm hopes to begin selling the product in Europe in May.
"A lot of researchers couldn't believe this treatment was effective, but people are always skeptical when confronted with new ideas," Joel Weinstock, of the University of Iowa in the United States, told New Scientist magazine Tuesday.
He came up with the idea after noticing that a rise in cases of IBD coincided with a drop in infections caused by roundworms and human whipworms.
Weinstock also noted that IBD is rare in developing countries where parasitic infections are more common.
When he tested it twice a month on 100 patients in the United States with IBD, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, symptoms such as abdominal pain, bleeding and diarrhoea, disappeared.
Fifty percent of patients with ulcerative colitis and 70 percent of Crohn's disease sufferers went into remission.
"With these new impressive results, we can come out of the closet," said Weinstock, who plans to present the findings at a medical conference next month.
The scientists decided to use pig whipworms because they do not survive long in the body. About half a billion people are infected with human whipworm, according to the magazine.
"Weinstock's theory is that our immune systems have evolved to cope with the presence of such parasites and can become overactive without them," New Scientist explained.
BioCure's sister company, Biomonde, sells leeches and maggots for treating wounds.