Nationwide Study Looks at Pig Parasite Eggs as Potential Crohn's Treatment
ALBANY, N.Y., April 5, 2013—Albany Medical Center is joining a multi-center trial testing the eggs of a pig parasite (whipworm) as a potential treatment for Crohn’s disease, a severe and debilitating form of inflammatory bowel disease.
For the trial, Crohn’s patients will ingest 7,500 microscopic parasite eggs in a tablespoonful of salt water (called Trichuris Suis Ova (TSO) suspension) every two weeks for 12 weeks. Another group will be given a placebo. In humans, this special form of the parasite egg survives only about two weeks and does not cause infection.
Several clinical studies have shown that ingestion of live TSO has been well tolerated in humans, including a study conducted at the University of Iowa, supported in part by the National Institutes of Health.
“Crohn’s disease can be a very serious condition and current treatments do not provide relief for most of the people affected. The TSO medication meets FDA purity criteria of a pharmaceutical product, is tasteless and odorless, and has been shown in previous clinical studies to provide relief from symptoms,” said Cindy Zhu, M.D., co-director of The Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center in the division of gastroenterology, who is leading the study at Albany Med.
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder, meaning the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in the body resulting in inflammation that produces symptoms including diarrhea, cramping, pain, and bleeding. Current treatment options relieve some symptoms but have potentially serious side effects.
Dr. Zhu explained that Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases occur mostly in hygienic Western industrialized countries and are very rare in developing countries where people are more likely to have been exposed to intestinal parasites during childhood. She said this is possibly explained by the “hygiene hypothesis” which postulates that exposure to microbes in early childhood stimulates healthy development of the immune system and lack of exposure leaves people vulnerable to autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s.
The trial is sponsored by Coronado Biosciences, Inc. of Massachusetts. Preliminary results are expected in late 2013.
Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 651-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with nearly 400 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: www.amc.edu or www.facebook.com/albanymedicalcenter.
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