Magic Molecule

Published Online: Thursday, May 1, 2003

Secretions from a parasitic worm, called a filarial nematode, have an anti-inflammatory effect, according to a recent discovery by Scottish researchers. The discovery could help individuals with autoimmune diseases.

A filarial nematode lives off humans and is carried by hundreds of millions of people in the tropics. The worm secretes a molecule called ES-62, which enables it to live inside the host. Interestingly, ES-62 appears to have no visible impact on humans except reducing inflammation. ?This discovery is very exciting, and it may help to explain the reduced incidence of autoimmune diseases in areas of high nematode worm transmission,? said William Harnett, PhD, lead author of the study. The scientists hope that they can apply their research to create a new drug that could someday help relieve the pain of millions of people with rheumatoid arthritis and similar diseases.

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