Diethylcarbamazine May Save a Person from Elephantiasis


Elephantiasis is a weird disease in which some parts of the body, particularly limbs grow large in size. The primary reason behind this disease is the obstruction in the body’s natural lymphatic system which results in lymph built-up in areas and make them inflamed. Because of the abnormal enlargement in size, this disease is given this name in reference to the elephant.

It took so many years for the researchers to understand that a common medicine such as diethylcarbamazine can improve the disease progression for elephantiasis. The complete study findings are now published in the journal “Communications Biology”.

The study findings show that giving diethylcarbamazine to a patient works on the parasites that result in lymphatic filariasis, which is commonly known as elephantiasis. Previously, they believed that probably this medicine works on the immune system of the patient and boost it. As an effect, the person gets better.

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Richard Martin, from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University, is the principal investigator and author of this study. According to him, these findings are helpful for planning a better treatment because the doctors finally know how this medicine is going to help their patients. It will also help them to understand if it can interact with other therapeutic techniques or medicines and make sure it doesn’t happen.

Lymphatic filariasis is a chronic disease that shows up as severe inflammation of the skin and thickening of skin layers in extreme cases. But what triggers this disease is scary and worrisome. It is actually caused by some parasitic worms which can literally crawl inside the body through insect bites, like the dengue virus.

Once the parasites are inside the body, they start maturing. Once they reach their adult stage, they start to accumulate in the lymphatic system.

This disease is the most common in faraway tropical regions in western Africa as well as South America. A disease that is somewhat similar to lymphatic filariasis is also seen in animals from other regions of the world. But this human version is much more dangerous and it can even lead to lifelong disability or amputation, says the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This medicine, Diethylcarbamazine was first identified back in 1947 and was used against a number of diseases particularly roundworms that are another parasite. In this study, Martin used the scientific notion of this medicine’s existence and suggested usage which was thought to promote immunity.

This new study was able to identify the exact mechanism of action of this medicine. Although this medicine has been around for months and many physicians have used it to treat elephantiasis patients, yet its exact role wasn’t clear before this study.

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This new study highlighted the role of diethylcarbamazine as a parasitic paralyzer however this effect is only temporary. This medicine causes pore formation on the cellular membranes of the parasite, allowing them to open and initiate the calcium movement. when calcium reaches inside the cells it induces a mechanism that is similar to the paralyzes, allowing the parasites to drain out of the lymphatic system.

Understanding the role of diethylcarbamazine will help doctors to design better treatment plans and combine it with other therapies to get maximum outcomes for the patients.


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