IT WORKS for crops. Now a common organic pesticide could cure hundreds of millions of people of intestinal worms, if cash can be found for trials. More than 1 billion people, almost all of them living below the World Bank's poverty line, are infected with nematodes. While the worms don't usually kill, they stunt growth, cause anaemia and impair cognitive development. All this helps to "trap the 'bottom billion' in poverty", says Peter Hotez, a specialist in tropical diseases at George Washington University in Washington DC. The current treatment doesn't work well on all types of worms – and resistance is emerging. Now Raffi Aroian at the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues have shown that the protein CrySB, produced by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis and used as a crop pesticide, could act as an effective drug. An oral dose cleared around 70 per cent ofthe worms from infected mice (PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, DOl: 10.1371/journal.pntd.oooo614.t002). CrySB is about three times as effective as tribendimidin, the leading drug in development. A big obstacle is a dearth of funding for human trials, says Aroian.
Source of Information : New Scientist March 6 2010