We all see the world differently, but for those with autism the world can be a particularly confusing jumble of people and places. Autism spectrum disorders affect one in a hundred children in the UK and there is no cure. Autistic individuals often have difficulties with social interaction, respond badly to change and display repetitive behaviours. It is speculated that some of these symptoms may be due to their immune systems over-reacting, causing chronic inflammation. So where do worms come in? The whipworm (pictured), specifically Trichuris suis, infects the intestines of both pigs and humans. Harmful and sometimes fatal to pigs, it is fairly innocuous to humans, and may even decrease inflammation. When an autistic boy was infected with whipworm eggs, he seemed to show improvement in his symptoms. This has spurred a small clinical trial to test if it might work for other people with autism.
Written by Lux Fatimathas
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.