How Dr Wriggly wormed himself into the affection of the ill
The parasitic hookworm is an unlikely hero in the battle to treat auto-immune disorders, writes Shaun Smillie
After 30 years of suffering, John Scott had given up on doctors and medicine — until he met the amazing Dr Wriggly. Scott’s problems began when he developed allergic asthma as a child, which evolved into perennial rhinitis in his teens. By the time he was in his thirties, the Englishman’s food intolerance was so bad it threatened his survival. Doctors discovered that he was suffering from Crohn’s disease. He tried everything modern medicine had to offer, Scott says, but nothing worked. Then, at a clinical trial at the University of Nottingham in the UK, he was introduced to Dr Wriggly: a hookworm a centimetre long and as thin as a hair that feasts on blood in humans’ small intestines. "What he doesn’t know about the human immune system is clearly not worth knowing," Scott wrote about Dr Wriggly, the name he gave to his parasites. After infecting himself with the worms, he noticed after 12 weeks that his allergies had diminished. A year-and-a-half later, Scott was eating normal foods...