By Staff Reports
(DGIwire) – Think bugs are annoying and have no redeeming qualities? Well, think again. A slew of research has exposed an amazing fact: insects can help address a wide variety of human ailments. More are being studied for use to treat wounds and diseases. Here are four examples of how insects have been shown to alleviate the symptoms of particular maladies.
“Insect biology harbors a slew of surprises that are proving very helpful to medical researchers,” says Gur Roshwalb, M.D., CEO of Akari Therapeutics. “For those with an interest in rare diseases, ticks have proven to be an inspiring source of insights.”
A protein in the saliva of the tick Ornithodoros moubata has been used to derive a new inhibitor of the complement protein C5, a small recombinant compact protein named Coversin. The natural Coversin molecule works by damping down the immune response of the host animal that the tick feeds off of, enabling it to repeatedly feed without damage from host inflammatory substances. Akari is currently studying Coversin as a potential treatment for a range of rare autoimmune diseases.
These diseases include Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH), a rare and serious acquired disease that causes red blood cells to break apart, according to the PNH Research & Support Foundation. Additional potential uses of Coversin are to treat atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (aHUS), which causes abnormal blood clots to form in small blood vessels in the kidneys, and Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS), a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. Akari has been granted Orphan Drug Designations by the FDA for Coversin, for the treatment of GBS and PNH. In March 2017, the FDA granted Fast Track designation for Coversin for treatment of PNH in patients who have polymorphisms conferring resistance to eculizumab.
“Along with revelations from other aspects of insect biology, tick saliva is turning out to be a potential key to new approaches for treating inflammatory diseases,” adds Roshwalb.