MSc Thesis Topic: “Worm therapy”: the treatment of hyperimmune diseases with proteins derived from worms and other pathogens and parasites

An increasing number of people in the world suffer from hyperimmune diseases (e.g. allergy, diabetes, multiple sclerosis).

Worm therapy/Picture: Geert Smant
Worm therapy/Picture: Geert Smant

The most widely used therapies are currently based on treatment with drugs known for their extraordinary side-effects. Our lab at the moment is looking into the possible treatment of these hyperimmune diseases with proteins derived from parasitic worms. This program is inspired by the observations that worms ate capable of suppressing hyperimmune activities. People carrying worms infections are at a significantly lower risk of developing a hyperimmune condition. Upon understanding the mechanisms behind the immunomodulation of a host by a worm we are able to produce these proteins in heterologous production system (most often plants). We can than study the biology of these proteins in more detail. Ultimately, this may lead to new strategies to treat hyperimmune diseases.