Tag Archives: Helminth

Worms – Not Just Useful in the Garden

It is known that worms are ‘old infections’ and that old infections tend to manipulate their host’s immune system to their advantage – they use the immune system to hide from attack by the immune system. It is not altogether surprising, then, that worms can affect non-infective diseases. Previous research has shown infections protecting people from atopy.[1] Now it turns out that worm infestation might also offer protection against inflammatory bowel disease.[2] One possibility is that they do this by altering intestinal flora and reducing the load of bacteria that promote infection.[2] [3] Certain people who are predisposed to inflammatory bowel disease might gain protection from worm infestation.

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. Smits HH, Everts B, Hartgers FC, Yazdanbakhsh M. Chronic Helminth Infections Protect Against Allergic Diseases by Active Regulatory Processes. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2010; 10(1): 3-12.
  2. Ramanan D, Bowcutt R, Lee SC, et al. Helminth infection promotes colonization resistance via type 2 immunity. Science. 2016; 352(6285): 608-12.
  3. Leslie M. Parasitic worms may prevent Crohn’s disease by altering bacterial balance. Science. 24 April 2016.