15 February 2017
Vol 9, Issue 377

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ONLINE COVER The Worm Turns. The parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus (pictured) is endemic throughout parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Endemic areas have reported an unusual form of epilepsy called nodding syndrome in children. Johnson et al. report in a new study that individuals with nodding syndrome carry autoantibodies to leiomodin-1, a protein expressed by neurons in the brain, that cross-react with proteins of O. volvulus. The autoantibodies are neurotoxic suggesting that nodding syndrome may be an autoimmune epilepsy triggered by infection with this parasitic worm. If so, nodding syndrome could be prevented by treatment with the antiparasitic drug ivermectin. [CREDIT: RALPH C. EAGLE JR./SCIENCE SOURCE]