Researchers Call for Volunteers to Be Infected with a Parasite That Has No Cureadmin
A team of researchers operating our of the Leiden University Medical Center in Holland is taking a seemingly unprecedented approach to developing new treatments for a parasitic worm that causes the disease schistosomiasis, IFLScience.com reported. According to the World Health Organization, schistosomiasis is an acute and chronic parasitic disease that is caused by blood flukes (trematode worms) which affected at least 206.5 million people in 2016. The disease is most commonly found in Africa but has also been found in Asia and South America. It causes a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, enlarged liver, hypertension, and blood in the stool and urine. The team believes that by conducting their experiments in a lab rather than the field they will be able to get better results.
Seventeen people have signed up to be infected with male worms (the eggs laid by female worms are the primary cause of the disease’s symptoms) – but some doctors are still concerned that there is no guarantee the volunteers will be able to be cured. At present, there is only one vaccine available to treat the disease, “but even that is inadequate,” IFLScience.com reported. Because the parasite primarily affects poor children and fishermen in developing countries the disease is underacknowledged. The researchers hope “this experiment will help to show that humans can be safely infected with the worms in an experimental setting, which will then lead to more vaccines that can be tested.