August 25, 2012

Pig Poop Parasites Could Be Used To Treat Autoimmune Diseases

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

A Massachusetts-based bio-pharmaceutical company is developing a new treatment for autoimmune diseases from a parasite found in pig feces, Reuters writer Toni Clarke reported on Friday.

Coronado Biosciences, based in the town of Burlington, is currently working on a new drug consisting of thousands of microscopic parasite eggs removed from the droppings of the large-snouted, hoofed mammals, Clarke said.

The eggs are suspended in a tablespoon of saline solution and taken orally to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, or other similar ailments in which a person's body attacks his or her own tissues or organs, she added.

It may not sound appealing, but the company is banking on it being effective.

Dr. Joel Weinstock, an adviser to Coronado and the chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, told Reuters that the parasites could not only be used as a drug to treat auto-immune diseases, but could also "provide insight" into their causes.

The company is reportedly preparing a mid-stage clinical trial, during which 220 Crohn's disease patients will receive either a dose of 7,500 eggs or a placebo once every 14 days for a total of 12 weeks.

"Tiny Coronado, with a market value of nearly $139 million, went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange last December," Clarke said. "If the company, which also has an early-stage cancer drug in development, succeeds with TSO, it will compete against multibillion-dollar drugs from Amgen Inc and Abbott Laboratories."

"Sales of autoimmune disease drugs are expected to grow in the mid-single-digit percentages through 2016, from $34 billion in 2010, according to market research firm BCC Research," she added. "As many as 700,000 Americans suffer from Crohn's disease, a bowel disorder. An estimated 50 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis and as many as 7.5 million suffer from psoriasis."

According to Coronado's website, the company, which was founded in 2006, develops immunotherapy biologic agents to treat cancer and an array of autoimmune diseases. Their two primary pharmaceutical product candidates will be used to treat inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and acute myeloid leukemia.