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Come hear Malaghan Institute of Medical Research (MIMR) scientist Jodie Chandler as she discusses how the destructive human hookworm, found in developing countries, may be the key to reducing symptoms of allergies and asthma conditions in first-world countries like New Zealand.
Hookworm affects one billion people worldwide. It is a leading cause of anaemia in developing countries. Infection is currently controlled through frequent use of drugs in school-age children, however, high rates of re-infection occur soon after treatment and there is evidence of emerging drug resistance.
The mechanisms by which these organisms subdue the immune system have been studied at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research (MIMR) for many years because of their potential to dampen harmful inflammatory immune responses, such as those made in asthma and allergy.
MIMR believe that creating a vaccine for hookworm is a lasting way to prevent re-infection and break the cycle of disease. They are also interested in the parasite's interaction with the immune system, because once communities are able to control the parasite, the incidence of allergies to harmless environmental allergens gradually rises.