Parasitology experts from the University of Salford turned TV presenter Dr Michael Mosley’s body into a living laboratory when he was deliberately infected with tapeworms.
Professor Phil Craig, Professor Mike Rogan and PhD student Judy Mwangi shared their expertise with Dr Mosley during the making of Infested! Living with Parasites, which is part of BBC Four’s Natural History Season and will be broadcast tonight (19 February).
Tapeworms have evolved over millions of years to the particular environment of the human gut. Michael infected himself by swallowing live cysts sourced from infected meat in Kenya, and their growth was monitored inside his intestine by a special 'pill-camera' which he swallowed.
The project produced some fascinating images which will be used during teaching sessions, and the parasitic material will inform the University’s research.
Professor Craig has spent many years researching a highly virulent parasite which infects people in Tibet and western China, and had a microscopic worm named after him in 2010.
He said: “We advised Dr Moseley about the self-infection and what to expect, and were impressed that three tapeworms managed to establish in his gut. We will use the data to help us assess diagnostic tests in regions where tapeworm infections are common.”
Infested! Living with Parasites, Wednesday 19 February, BBC4, 9.00pm.