SafeMinds Funded Research Discovers that Increased Biome Diversity Produces Healthier, Smarter Immune System Responses

April 08, 2015

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Allergy and Autoimmunity Decreases, Without Compromising Immune Response

(April 8, 2015, Huntington Beach, CA)—Conventional wisdom in modern medicine has assumed that a necessary consequence of blocking allergies and autoimmune reactions is immune system suppression, which in turn causes patients to be more vulnerable to other infections and cancers.

A new study published today in PLOS ONE by Duke University researchers, and funded in part by the Coalition of SafeMinds, found that increasing biodiversity in the body via biome enrichment, known to decrease allergies and autoimmune reactions, is not immune suppressive. This discovery holds great promise to treat autoimmune diseases successfully without compromising appropriate immune responses.

William Parker, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Surgery at Duke and lead researcher for the study, Increased biodiversity in the environment improves the humoral response of rats said, “Modern medicine suppresses the immune system to treat disease but biome enrichment treats allergic/autoimmune disease and, at the same time, can actually enhance immune function to make a healthier, smarter immune response. This means that organisms such as helminths can potentially help the immune system produce a more robust response to dangerous things like infectious organisms or cancer cells, and at the same time, decrease the response to innocuous things like peanuts and pollen. We found that enhanced biodiversity was associated with better immune responsiveness in general. Specifically, we found better T-cell responses and much higher levels of ‘natural’ antibodies, which have been shown to be important in fighting cancer.”

“This new study is helping to put critical pieces of the immune system puzzle together in a way that SafeMinds hopes will lead to successful treatments for autistic individuals who suffer from immune and gastrointestinal dysfunction. Research has found that many individuals with autism have vastly different microbiomes than healthy controls. Biome enrichment with helminths shows great promise in treating immune dysfunction by helping to modulate aberrant immune responses without suppressing the immune system, which in turn may lead to better health and developmentally appropriate behavior. As abnormal immune responses have been linked to autistic behavior, modulating immune response with helminths, if possible, can lead to significantly improved outcomes for our children. I’m excited to see where this research will lead us,” said Laura Bono, SafeMinds Board Member.


About SafeMinds:  SafeMinds is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to pursue justice, accountability, and integrity in science and public policy as a means for preventing childhood autism and the disabilities that accompany autism in future generations.  The organization educates and empowers people, focuses on prevention, and funds research to find treatments that will lead to recovery for those living with autism.

Your generous donation will help Safeminds in our mission for better research and treatments for individuals with autism. Consider donating now.

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