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Worm Wagon rolls into town

12 Nov 2013

On 26 October, researchers from the University met about 300 people in Exchange Square as part of Manchester Science Festival and told them about their research to try and understand how the human body responds to having worms in the gut.

Worm Wagon mural

Gut worms infect two billion people worldwide, which means there are more worms than people on the planet: these worms cause ill health and have a huge impact on global poverty.

By understanding why some people can and some people can't expel worm infections (they can last for years), the researchers will be able to design better therapies to treat infected individuals.

At the moment, the World Health Organisation is aiming to treat 800 million children with anti-helmintics (anti-worm medication) by 2020. Although these treatments help to reduce symptoms of worm infection (anaemia, growth stunting, extreme tiredness), they do not stop the children becoming re-infected, so new therapies are urgently needed.

Members of the public had the chance to witness the good, the bad and the downright ugliness of these parasites, and help the researchers create a unique and beautiful mural using chalks and pastels to demonstrate the role that science can play in reducing world poverty. The end result (pictured right) was a 4 metre square mural showing the different types of worms that can live in the gut.