My last post was about how parasitic intestinal worms seem somehow to protect against inflammatory intestinal autoimmune disease. People from rural environments and developing countries, where such parasites are common, do not suffer such inflammatory diseases. Stewart Johnson, a deeply concerned father of an autistic child has taken this further.
Johnson researched all sorts of autism cures in hopes of alleviating his 13-year-old son’s self=destructive behaviors. He knew that one idea about autism is that some of the symptoms are a result of inflammation of glial cells in the brain.
As you can see from my two brief posts last week (May 17 and 19), the snake oil salesmen have been quick to hop onto the inflammation-causes-autism bandwagon. But that doesn’t mean inflammation isn’t part of some forms of autism.
In search of inflammation cures, Stewart Johnson came across the research I reported in my last post. Wondering if parasitic helminth (Trichuris suis) worms might help his son, Johnson got in touch with his son’s doctor, Eric Hollander, who helped him get a sample of the worm eggs (T. suis ova or TSO) and with Joel Weinstock, one of the researchers who found they could alleviate Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
With their help, Johnson tried the worm therapy and found that it did indeed alleviate the terrible, self-destructive autism symptoms his son was suffering. Years later, the son, now twenty, is healthy on bi-weekly doses of TSO.
What a miracle! Now the task for researchers is to figure out what the worms are doing to modify immune systems so that inflammation goes away. Meanwhile, see Stewart Johnson telling this story below.