A simple recipe for gummy worm bites is being trialled in the U.K. as part of a trial for a vaccine that protects people against dengue fever.
The gummy wiggly creatures are a staple in Asia and are made with ginger and other spices, according to the Ullapool Gazette.
“There is a lot of research into the potential for gums and worms to have an immunological benefit,” Dr. Caroline Cappelen, a specialist in allergy medicine at King’s College London, told the paper.
Gummy worms are a popular ingredient in Asian and Asian American cuisine.
The creatures, made with a mixture of ginger, garlic and salt, are commonly used in Asian food like sushi, stir-fry or Chinese stir-fried noodles, according the Uyghur Medical Society in China.
They can be eaten raw, cooked or frozen.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the gummy food as a dietary supplement in November 2016.
The new research was published online this week in the journal Immunity.
“In addition to the benefits of the gums for treating dengues, they have also been used in traditional Chinese medicine and traditional Chinese cooking, and can be used to enhance the effects of oral ingestion,” Cappellen said.
The researchers used the worms to develop a vaccine against dargan, a virus that causes dengus.
Dargan causes fever and death in about 40,000 people in China and Southeast Asia.
“Our goal was to develop an immune response against the dargans, which could be useful in other populations where denguses are endemic,” said study researcher Dr. Annette O’Keefe, a virologist at the University of California, San Diego.
The team tested the vaccine in rats, monkeys and rabbits, using a strain of darga virus that had already been shown to be safe and effective in humans.
They used the new vaccine in mice and mice with a genetic mutation that prevented the virus from causing any adverse effects in their blood.
The group tested the new protein in human volunteers with dargaan antibodies.
They then used a modified version of the vaccine to test whether it worked in human participants with a mutation that was unrelated to the dargo variant.
They found that the new version did protect people against the virus in a small trial of four people.
They reported the findings in the February 24 issue of the journal Antiviral Research.
The findings could help doctors create more effective vaccines against other viruses.
Previous research has found that dargarans cause severe side effects in people.
“This is a good study to see whether we can find a way to develop vaccines against dargo variants without introducing new mutations, which is the biggest challenge we face in immunology,” said Dr. Rishi Gupta, director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at the British Center for Disease Control and Prevention in London.
“But it’s not enough to get dargaban vaccines out there in the lab, and that’s the big challenge.”
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