Researchers believe roundworms, a type of intestinal parasite, may yield a cure for asthma after finding that they secrete a protein molecule that stops whoever’s gut they inhabit from having allergic reactions.

The paper describes how a protein molecule called H. polygyrus Alarmin Release Inhibitor (HpARI) prevented allergic reaction in mice.

The parasite secretions interfere with the action of interleukin-33 (IL-33), a cell-signaling molecule produced by white blood cells that plays an important role in triggering immune reactions in diseases such as asthma.

“We have known for some years that infections with parasitic worms appear to protect people against asthma,” explains co-senior study author Dr. Henry McSorley, of the Medical Research Council Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh.

The team hopes that their findings may lead to a cure for asthma.