Dr. James Logan: Food Allergy Mad Scientist


Ancylostoma caninum, a type of hookworm, attac...

Ancylostoma caninum, a type of hookworm, attached to the intestinal mucosa. Source:CDC's Public Health Image Library Image #5205 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This cat is nuts, but the good kind of nuts.  I’ve blogged about these scary possibly-food-allergy-curtailing bugs before… but this guy has sprung into action by swallowing the damn things along with a tiny camera to see just exactly how they work.  Screw animal testing and clinical trials… this dude is D.I.Y. all the way.

Check out this article: Hookworms And Allergies – Doctor Infects Himself For Experiment

Here’s an excerpt:

In using his own body in the service of science, Logan joins self-experimenters like Sir Isaac Newton, who in the 17th century nearly went blind after staring too long at the sun in a mirror in order to study the after-images on his retinas.

Quite apart from the ethical implications of putting a person’s health at risk, such self-experimentation is much less common nowadays, with trials tending to be on a much larger scale in order to get enough statistical power for reliable results, but, as in Logan’s case, it occasionally happens, under carefully controlled conditions.

Logan was interested in the experiment because research suggests, a hookworm infection can cure or alleviate symptoms of allergies like bowel disease and food allergies. It is thought the worms release compounds that reduce the over-reactions in the immune system that cause the allergies.

He allowed himself to be infected because he himself suffers from a long-standing food allergy that means he cannot eat bread without feeling very ill.

He also wanted to demonstrate, using new state of the art imaging for the first time ever, how the worms get into the body.

CRAZY.

Then again, if an herbal supplement works, why not try that first?  Maybe this guy just likes creepy little bugs so much, he wanted to eat them.  I’d rather eat herbs than bugs, but to each his own.

Then again, you or I might already be infected with a hookworm & not even know it.  The article states “According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 576-740 million people in the world are infected with hookworm. The infection usually has no symptoms, although some people, especially those infected for the first time, have gastrointestinal symptoms.”  Ew!

There’s a video (& a transcript) about Dr. James Long here: Dr. James Logan’s Hookworm Experiment

Vodpod videos no longer available.

A video highlight, and the meat of the experiment…

Eosinophil blood cells are an important part of the body’s immune system which is the mechanism within us that fights infection. Eosinophils are associated with fighting parasites like hookworm. Normally they make about 1% of our blood. But people like Dr James who are infected with hookworms usually start producing more of these cells.

He’s going to need a lab coat an some hair like Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future if he’s going to gain any respect as a mad scientist.  But any way you look at it, this guy is pretty badass.

No, no, no, no, no, this sucker's electrical, but I need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity I need.

No, no, no, no, no, this sucker's electrical, but I need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity I need.

Possible Parasitic Panacea


Adult Trichuris female human whipworm PHIL 414...

Adult Trichuris female human whipworm

Thanks to one of my many Twitter food allergy friends,  @Onespot_Allergy, this incredible  yet possibly repulsing story recently came to my attention: Food Allergies And The Dirty Side Of The Hygiene Hypothesis

Basically… researchers are trying to see if parasites dropped into your guts will boost your immune system and possibly cure peanut allergies… and in turn, all food allergies.

This linked to another exciting, informative, and insane article from WCVB TV-5 complete with a video: Parasites May Cure Allergies

…Participants would swallow a small vial full of liquid with parasitic eggs once every two weeks for an undetermined period of time.

They said side effects are minimal.

“This is not a parasite that will stay and colonize,” said Castells. “They just stay there for a little bit, they have enough food for a few days, a few weeks, and they go out.”

Jouvin and Castells are particularly interested in finding study subjects with moderately serious peanut allergies. Often deadly, peanut allergies afflict millions and kill as many as 100 Americans each year.

First reaction?  Ew!  Next reaction?  Neat!  …and what the hell is a Whipworm?  Well, Wikipedia is helpful in such situations…

  • Light infestations (<100 worms) are frequently asymptomatic.
  • Heavy infestations may have bloody diarrhea.
  • Long-standing blood loss may lead to iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Rectal prolapse is possible in severe cases.
  • Vitamin A deficiency may also result due to infection.[2]

Mechanical damage to the mucosa may occur as well as toxic or inflammatory damage to the intestines of the host.

At least the first line is reassuring.  This seems a lot like how the plot to Alien started.  If it’s proven, I’ll go for it.  I’d like to make sure that I’m not allergic to Whipworms before I eat any or their eggs, though.

Also… if “cured”, I wouldn’t be going to Red Lobster any time soon, but it sure would make cross-contamination fears a thing of the past.

What do you think about this possible cure for food allergies?  Excited?  Scared?  Grossed out?  Curious?  No emotions until there are solid results?