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Trends Immunol. 2009 Feb;30(2):75-82. doi: 10.1016/j.it.2008.11.005. Epub 2009 Jan 8.

Can helminths or helminth-derived products be used in humans to prevent or treat allergic diseases?

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  • Department of Pulmonary Research, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG, Biberach a.d. Riss, 88440, Germany. klaus.erb@bc.boehringer-ingelheim.com


Recent epidemiological and experimental data indicate that infection with helminths can protect humans from the development of allergic disorders by immunosuppressive mechanisms that involve the induction of IL-10 and/or regulatory T cells. Furthermore, helminth-derived immune modulators suppress allergic responses in mice. Trichuris suis therapy has been shown to be safe and efficacious in treating inflammatory bowel disease in humans. Has the time come to treat patients who have allergic diseases or healthy humans who are at risk of developing these diseases with helminths or helminth-derived products? Here, I discuss the pros and cons of such an approach.

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