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Could Parasitic Worms Be the Key to Anti-Ageing? Read What Experts Say

According to a new study from the University College London, parasitic worms could be the key to a “fountain of youth” pill.  Parasitic worms such as hookworms and whipworms, where proteins derived from can be used to prevent heart diseases, dementia, and other life-threatening medical conditions, researchers suggest.

Photo: Anti-Ageing Therapy | InStyleHealth

Also being infected with the proteins derived from the helminths could help fight inflammation and prevent age-related diseases.

These parasitic worms, which once lived harmlessly in our intestines, have largely disappeared from westerners due to modern lifestyles, including good hygiene.

However, the lead author Bruce Zhang, a biology student at the University College London’s Institute of Healthy Ageing, said the loss of our “old friends” may be correlated to increases in ageing-associated inflammation.

“A decline in exposure to commensal microbes and gut helminths in developed countries has been linked to increased prevalence of allergic and autoimmune inflammatory disorders,” Zhang said.

"A further possibility is this loss of 'old friend' microbes and helminths increases the sterile, ageing-associated inflammation known as inflammageing."

A previous research study which was published in eLife also raises the possibility that helminth or parasitic worm therapy could help keep us young.

The previous study suggests that inflammageing drives a range of disorders from cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and osteoporosis, the researchers stated.

A review of previous study learned that helminth therapy can successfully treat inflammatory disorders such as coeliac disease. It can also stop or even reverse the ageing process, study suggested.

Using helminth-derived proteins may help achieve the same benefits and would be a safer and more palatable options, experts said.

The study co-author Professor David Gems of UCL added, “It goes without saying improvements in hygiene and elimination of helminth parasites have been of incalculable benefit to humanity.”

“But a cost coupled to this benefit is abnormalities of immune function. In the wake of success during the last century in eliminating the evil of helminths, the time now seems right to further explore their possible benefits, particularly for our ageing population – strange as this may sound.”

Other study has presented helminth-derived proteins can boost good gut bacteria in mice exposed to a junk food diet. It also lowered fat tissue, which is known to be a major source of inflammageing.

Lower rates of inflammageing-related disease have been identified in some areas where helminth infection is common. For instance, in Eastern India, the parasitic worms or helminths have been found to prevent rheumatoid arthritis. Epidemiological studies have also shown helminths protect against type 2 diabetes and blocked arteries.

In conclusion to their experimental study, the authors said, “Available evidence suggests that restorative helminth therapies are effective against not only allergic and autoimmune inflammatory disorders, but also age-associated inflammation in later life, at least to some extent. Should this be confirmed, helminth therapy could provide protection against wide spectrum of age-related diseases promoted by inflammageing.”

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