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Worm could hold key to arthritis cure

Thu 21 Jun 2007

A TROPICAL parasite that can cause horrific disfigurement has been identified by a Scots scientist as a source of treatment for asthma, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

The filarial nematode, a worm that is transported via mosquito bites, is found in Africa, where it is estimated 150 million people are infected with it. The worm can cause elephantiasis, in which the limbs and extremities are grotesquely oversized.

However, it has been discovered that medicinal properties of the parasite hold the potential to treat crippling conditions.

A team at Strathclyde University, led by Professor William Harnett, have found the worm secretes a protein which can stop the body being attacked by its own defence mechanism.

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