Hotez and others including Weinstock's group are working on identifying the molecules responsible for the effects of treatment with worms so they can be purified and synthesised as pharmaceuticals, just as scientists did with penicillin. Several discoveries have already been made with hookworms, such as a protein that inhibits white blood cell activity and another with anticoagulant properties.
Back in Wisconsin, Turk, who has no desire to travel to Mexico or England to attain illicit worms, awaits the trial results. He occasionally speaks to multiple sclerosis support groups about his experiences, encouraging others to take part in research to speed the discovery of better medications. He is taking interferon beta-1a, a drug that reduces relapse rates, but he hopes the trials of helminthic therapy prove successful, and would gladly switch to it if it gained approval. Without a tried and tested cure, Turk says he has good days and bad days. “A lot of people look at me and don’t think there’s anything wrong, but that’s just because I do a good job at hiding it,” he adds.