[SaneVax: Once a virus or bacteria is associated with a disease, the medical community traditionally sets out to eliminate the threat. Unfortunately, science is beginning to see a purpose for these germs. It is starting to look like these germs, we are so intent on eliminating could very well be essential to maintaining good health.]
Hygiene Hypothesis: Banishing germs from your life can make you seriously ill
By Hari Pulakkat, Economic Times Bureau
Immunologists rarely work in diabetes clinics, but a quirk of fate brought Vivekanandhan Aravindhan from the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the US to Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre in Chennai. To make himself useful, he decided to investigate the relationship between diabetes and infection, specifically filarial infection. It was an unusual choice.
Although filarial infection was common in the country, no one had ever thought of linking it to diabetes. After two years of experiments and analysis, Aravindhan and his colleagues got a result that seemed impossible: diabetes seemed to offer protection against filariasis.
Aravindhan’s first reaction was to rebuke his students and re-do his analysis. But try as he might, the correlation was unmistakable; those who had diabetes did not seem to get filariasis. It was some time before Aravindhan realised that he was holding the stick by the wrong end. Diabetes was not offering protection against filarial infection, but filarial infection was protecting people against diabetes.
“We initially thought that filarial infection had no connection with diabetes,” says Viswanathan Mohan, chairman of the centre. “But as data accumulated we found it difficult to ignore the link.” The scientists published their results two years ago in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Read the entire article here.