Could Parasitic Worm Spit Be An Elixir In The Animal Wound Care Market?


Date : Oct 05, 2017 Author : Rahul Singh Category : Healthcare

Parasitic spit molecule called granulin has accelerated wound healing in tests conducted

Parasitic worm spit is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of wound care. However, researchers claim that it might potentially transform the animal wound care market. The parasitic worm, commonly found in Southeast Asia, produces a molecule in its saliva that seems to have ‘healing powers’. These findings may even lead to a cream that can treat different kinds of animal and human wounds and particularly help diabetics. Australian scientists happened to find the compound known as granulin inadvertently as they sought to find out why it causes liver cancer. The molecule, a known carcinogenic, is found in the Opisthorchis viverrini worm, and it kills approx. 25,000 people in Thailand alone every year. 

Opisthorchis viverrini is more commonly known by the name Southeast Asian liver fluke and it attacks the bile duct. Humans or animals can be affected if an undercooked or raw fish is directly ingested. The American Cancer Society considers it a carcinogenic that causes cholangiocarcinoma – a cancer of the gall bladder and its ducts. The worm is endemic across Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. The adult worms are hermaphrodites and can sustain for decades in the liver, laying almost 200 eggs every day. 

Granulin is part of a large group of protein growth factors related to the growth of skin cells i.e. cell proliferation. The molecule causes angiogenesis that quickens wound repair and the formation of new blood vessels. Experts from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine have recently been able to mass-produce granulin for the further studies needed on this fascinating subject. Parasitologist Dr Michael Smout, a key member of the research team stated that their initial experiments were quite successful. In human cell laboratory tests, granulin helped accelerate healing and its potency was also proven beyond doubt on mice. The team thus realized that this molecule could be a game-changer for non-healing wounds in the case of smokers, diabetics, and the elderly. The experimentation on mice made its prospects very bright in the animal wound care market as well.

Professor Alex Loukas, another member of the study, made clear that extensive work needed to be done before the molecule is declared fit for clinical trials. It is unlikely to be available for another decade at the very least as per scientist estimates. Nonetheless, the team strongly believes that they have a strong contender for a future cream that diabetics may well be able to apply from the comfort of their own homes. A take-home cream is expected to be a great step forward in the human and animal wound care market and would save the healthcare systems of both millions of dollars. This transformational research has been published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.


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