They accept that they are injecting parasitic worms to help the science

News 4 March, 2018
  • QMI agency

    Sunday, march 4 2018 14:34

    Sunday, march 4 2018 14:37

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    Seventeen volunteers in the netherlands have accepted, in the name of science, to be infected by parasitic worms for 12 weeks in order to help researchers to develop a vaccine against schistosomes, was reported by the New York Times.

    These flat worms that infect up to 200 million people per year, mainly in Africa and South America, thousands of dead. The larvae of these worms are sufficiently tiny to be able to penetrate the skin of bathers. They then develop in the body of their host, lay their eggs, and can lead to immune responses causing chronic pain, fever, organ failure or internal bleeding.

    To counter this disease, researchers at the university college of medicine, Baylor, Texas, are working on a vaccine for 15 years. The study conducted in the netherlands aims to demonstrate that it is possible to test this vaccine on humans.

    The head of the study, dr. Meta Roestenberg, has acknowledged, in an interview with the New York Times, that the idea of being infected voluntarily may seem “weird and crazy”. The infectious disease specialist has, however, assured that the risks are “extremely low” for the volunteers. In order to minimize them, it has infected the participants with only 20 larvae males, thus preventing them from reproducing in their host.

    At the time of infection, when the worms have gone through the skin of the volunteers, they felt itching and one of them has had a little fever. Otherwise, all are fine, assured Dr. Roestenberg, who said that the guinea pigs will receive praziquantel to eliminate the parasites at the end of the study.

    Despite these precautions, researchers have criticized the research techniques. A specialist in schistosomes, professor Daniel Colley, of the University of Georgia, has particularly noted the website of the magazine Science that the drug is not 100% effective to eliminate the parasites, which have a life span of 5 to 10 years. “It is a long period of time to have something as disgusting as a schistosome living in his or her blood vessels, leaving scat behind him,” he pointed out.

    The volunteers received a compensation of about US $ 1200 for their participation in the study.