Combine TB vaccination with deworming, suggest scientists

By Bhavya Khullar, Twitter- BhavyaSc

New Delhi: Combining deworming and tuberculosis (TB) could help provide better protection against TB, a new study has suggested.

Scientists in Chennai studied people with latent TB patients– those who are infected with the disease-causing bacterium but cannot spread it to others because the infection is kept under control by immune system of the body.Some of them were also infected with a threadworm Strongyloidesstercoralis. The worm survives in the small intestine and spreads through fecal-contaminated soil.

It was found that latent TB patients with worm infestation had lower numbers of immune cells called B-cells that secrete antibodies which keep TB under check. In addition to lowered B-cell numbers, they had reduced levels of antibodies against TB in their blood which signifies a weak immune response against TB. When such patients were treated with deworming drugs – ivermectin or albendazole – the immune cells and antibody levels recovered.

“The implications of our study are twofold: threadworms might promote reactivation of active TB in latent TB infected patients, and also negatively influence the immune response to TB vaccines, said Professor Subash Babu, who led the study at the National Institute of Research in Tuberculosis, Chennai.

“We suggest that treatment for worm infection would make for aprudent first step in the conduct of TB vaccine trials in countries endemic for both TB and worms”, Babu said.

Results of the study, conducted have been published in a recent issue of scientific journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. It included 132 individuals,with 44 people in each of the three groups-those with latent TB, threadworm infestation, and with latent TB and worm infection both.

The research team included Rajamanickam Anuradha, Saravanan Munisankar, YuktiBhootra, ChandrakumarDolla, Paul Kumaran, Thomas B Nutman, and Subash Babu. The study was done jointly by the Chennai institute and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA.

(India Science Wire)


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