Earlier I reported some confusion as to the explanation given by the South Coast Today regarding the effects of stomach parasites on the course of M.S. in an Argentinian study.
Wednesday’s BBC report on the same subject was more informative. The comparison between the accounts is equally illuminating. When explaining the cause of the results, the BBC explained it thusly:
The scientists said it was possible that the parasites were able to influence the production of T-cells – cells which “dampen down” immune reactions within the body, both ensuring their success, and reducing “autoimmune” illnesses such as MS.
No confusion there. The supposition is that the parasites are suppressing the immune system’s production of immune agents, presumably including both the particular types of T-cells that attack that parasite and those that attack the body’s own myelin surrounding the nervous system. Now read the South Coast Today explanation:
The finding suggests that when the body’s immune system is occupied with an external threat, it might be less likely to misfire, which happens in conditions known as autoimmune disorders.
That explanation posits that any time the immune system is engaged in fighting infection, it doesn’t have the resources to engage in self-destruction. The problem is that the resources the immune system would use to fight a parasitic infection are not the same resources it would use to attack its own myelin. Every T-cell is “keyed”, so that it can only attack a certain type of cell. When it comes into contact with that cell, it divides, increasing the supply of that particular keying of T-cell. If the body’s (insert specific parasite name here) parasite attacking T-cells are busy fighting the parasite infection, it has no effect (that I can think of) on the body’s supply of myelin attacking T-cells.
Only the more general immune suppression ability of parasites that the BBC describes makes sense in explaining the results arrived at. In comparing the accounts, the second lesson we arrive at today is the dependability of sources. The BBC took the time to record a reason that makes sense, even if it is only supposition. The South Coast Today didn’t bother. The latter’s style has the advantage of being ready for the ‘presses’ two days earlier. The former’s style has the advantage of being plausible.
South Coast Today