Tag Archives: malaria

Reverse Pharmacology – Developing New Anti-Malaria Medicines from Traditional Herbal Remedies

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Natural products for the control of malaria

Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S1
BioMed Central

VIII. A “reverse pharmacology” approach for developing an anti-malarial phytomedicine

Willcox ML, Graz B, Falquet J, Diakite C, Giani S, Diallo D
Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S8
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3059466

Merlin L Willcox of the University of Oxford and Research Initiative for Traditional Antimalarial Methods, along with coauthors from the University of Geneva, Département de Médecine Traditionnelle (Mali) and Aidemet, describe a novel “reverse pharmacology” pathway for developing new antimalaria medicines from traditional herbal remedies.

From the abstract:

“A “reverse pharmacology” approach to developing an anti-malarial phytomedicine was designed and implemented in Mali, resulting in a new standardized herbal anti-malarial after six years of research. The first step was to select a remedy for development, through a retrospective treatment-outcome study. The second step was a dose-escalating clinical trial that showed a dose-response phenomenon and helped select the safest and most efficacious dose. The third step was a randomized controlled trial to compare the phytomedicine to the standard first-line treatment. The last step was to identify active compounds which can be used as markers for standardization and quality control. This example of “reverse pharmacology” shows that a standardized phytomedicine can be developed faster and more cheaply than conventional drugs. Even if both approaches are not fully comparable, their efficiency in terms of public health and their complementarity should be thoroughly considered.”

Noting that “conventional drug development is slow and expensive, taking up to 15 years and up to $800m to develop a new drug,” and that “the finished products are often unavailable and unaffordable to the poorest patients in remote areas, unless they are part of a heavily subsidized scheme,” the team hypothesized that development of standardized phytomedicines in parallel with conventional drug development might prove to be a faster, cheaper, and more sustainable approach for remote areas where malaria is endemic.

Reverse pharmacology was originally developed in India and China in the Mid-20th Century to make use of Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese whole systems of medicine while at the same time employing the conventional pharmaceutical pathway of isolating compounds for further development.

Argemone mexicana
Argemone mexicana [Source: Wikimedia Commons user B.navez]
The team developed and tested a reverse pharmacology pathway using a traditional herbal medicine derived from Argemone mexicana, a pan-tropical weed found in many places where malaria is endemic. In contrast to the conventional pharmaceutical pathway, the reverse pharmacology process took six years and cost about 400,000 Euros.

At the time of writing, the new antimalarial phytomedicine developed from the Argemone mexicana decoction was in the process of being approved in Mali.

The reverse pharmacology pathway had four discrete stages:

  1. Selection of a herbal remedy
  2. Dose-escalating clinical study
  3. Randomized controlled trial
  4. Isolation and testing of active compounds

In addition to the Argemone mexicana phytomedicine, the authors report that other phytomedicines for malaria have already been developed and are government-approved in Burkina Faso (Cochlospermum planchonii root decoction), in Ghana (Cryptolepis sanguinolenta root infusion) and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Artemisia annua Anamed leaf infusion).

The authors recommend that funding organizations “support the possibility of developing new types of medicines, including phytomedicines, rather than restricting funding only to conventional development of isolated active compounds,” with sustainable public health improvement in remote areas as a key consideration.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

RITAM Scoring Method Falls Short – More Research Needed

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Natural products for the control of malaria

Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S1
BioMed Central

VII. Do ethnobotanical and laboratory data predict clinical safety and efficacy of anti-malarial plants?

Willcox M, Benoit-Vical F, Fowler D, Bourdy G, Burford G, Giani S, Graziose R, Houghton P, Randrianarivelojosia M, Rasoanaivo P
Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S7
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3059465

Merlin Willcox of the Research Initiative on Traditional Antimalarial Methods and University of Oxford, with coauthors from Laboratoire de Chimie de Coordination, Université de Toulouse, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Aang Serian Community College, Aidemet ONG, Rutgers University, King’s College London, Institut Pasteur de Madagascar and Institut Malgache de Recherches Appliquées, review the development and validation of the RITAM scoring method, which was “designed to combine information from systematic literature searches of published ethnobotanical studies and laboratory pharmacological studies of efficacy and safety, in order to prioritize plants for further research.”

Noting that more than 1,200 plant species are reported in ethnobotanical studies for the treatment of malaria and fevers, the authors stress the importance of prioritizing plants for further development of antimalarial medicines, especially considering the very limited funds available for research.

The Research Initiative on Traditional Anti-malarial Methods (RITAM) was founded in 1999 to review current knowledge on traditional antimalarial methods in order to help determine research priorities, design optimal research methodologies, and avoid replication of research.

“There already exists a wealth of published ethnobotanical and pharmacological studies on anti-malarial plants. However, this information has never been reviewed systematically and there is no standard method for doing so. Standard scores and methods have been developed for meta-analysis of studies of medical interventions and diagnostic tests. There have been attempts at scoring plants according to basic ethnobotanical criteria (for example frequency of citation, or how widely a remedy is used but these do not take into account all important factors such as the quality of studies or pharmacological information on efficacy and safety. Others have prioritized plants according to the selectivity index in vitro, corresponding to the ratio between cytotoxicity and activity against Plasmodium falciparum. The first aim of this study was to design a standard score that could be used to prioritize traditional herbal remedies for further research based on objective criteria and systematic literature reviews, combining all available information from both ethnobotanical and pharmacological studies. The second aim was then to pilot this score and assess its ability to predict results of clinical trials for the few plant remedies that have been tested clinically for the treatment of malaria.”

The authors note severe limitations of the RITAM scoring method in its present state; for example:

“This is a first attempt to devise and pilot a scoring system to prioritize anti-malarial herbal remedies for further research, based on existing ethnobotanical data, and laboratory data on efficacy and safety. The overall score for most promising remedies was over 14, showing good results in all domains. However combining the scores can also have disadvantages. Cinchona (which is highly effective, and the source of quinine, which can be toxic) scored 6.5 overall (ethnobotanical = 3.5; efficacy = 8; safety = -5) which was the same score as the safe but ineffective topical Shea butter (ethnobotanical = 0.5; efficacy = 0; safety = 6).”

They conclude with a hope that the scoring method and its validation might be improved with more clinical studies of herbal antimalarials.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Integrating Traditional Medicine into Malaria Control Programs

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Natural products for the control of malaria

Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S1
BioMed Central

VI. To what extent can traditional medicine contribute a complementary or alternative solution to malaria control programmes?

Graz B, Kitua AY, Malebo HM
Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S6
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3059464

Bertrand Graz of the University of Geneva, Andrew Y Kitua of WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), and Hamisi M Maleboof of the National Institute for Medical Research (Tanzania) discuss past, present and future contributions of traditional medicine to malaria control programs, with a focus on trends in research and practice to help answer the following questions:

“Should traditional medicine be officially considered and recommended as complementary or alternative solutions in malaria control programs? And, if so, under what conditions?”

Noting that herbal compounds provided important leads for two modern antimalarials, quinine and artemisinin, the authors highlight several other traditional medicines for malaria where laboratory research and an increasing body of clinical research has shown evidence of effectiveness malaria control.

The authors discuss studies in Tanzania, Ghana and Mauritania showing improvement in the management of severe malaria through a collaboration between traditional healers and modern health care providers, forming a natural extension of the formal health service and improving access to modern medicines by the willingness of traditional practitioners to refer patients with severe malaria to their modern counterparts – e.g., for participation in clinical trials as appropriate.

Based on their review and field experience, the team proposes a project to incorporate traditional medicine into malaria control programs, organized along the following lines:

  1. Recognize traditional medicine as a (sometimes) valuable health resource, on the basis of published research
  2. Foster working relationships with those using traditional medicine
  3. Search for safe and effective local traditional medicines
  4. Spread results for clinical recommendations
  5. Make traditional medicine part of the public health system
  6. Explore the potential for traditional medicines as candidates for lead chemical compounds and drug development

In their conclusion, the authors note that the WHO Regional Committee for Africa Strategy for Promoting Traditional Medicine includes the development of local production and conservation of medicinal plants, legislation of traditional medicine practice and its integration into conventional health services.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

It’s in the Mix – Purified Compounds vs. Plant Extracts for Malaria Control

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Natural products for the control of malaria

Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S1
BioMed Central

V. Analysis of additivity and synergism in the anti-plasmodial effect of purified compounds from plant extracts.

Deharo E, Ginsburg H
Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S5
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3059463

With a review of the published literature “to establish the responsibility of isolated active compound(s) to the whole antiplasmodial activity of a crude extract,” Eric Deharo of the Université de Toulouse and Institut de Recherche pour le Développement and supplement editor Hagai Ginsburg lend support to the argument of Rasoanaivo et al., namely, that the antiplasmodial activity of isolated molecules do not account on their own for the activity of plant extracts.

Reviewing 1,031 articles describing the antiplasmodial activity of plant extracts posted on PubMed for the past 10 years, Deharo and Ginsburg found that “only a very few included the activity of the whole extract and of the pure compounds and their respective yields of extraction.” However, for most of the plants studied in those few papers, the anti-malaria activity of the purified compounds could not account quantitatively for that of the crude extract.

They conclude:

“If indeed this observation reflects the reality of anti-malarial properties of plant extracts, may be research should be focused on the “drug beside the drug”, looking for structures perhaps not exciting in the chemical point of view but that can revolutionize the treatment of malaria. Another natural consequence of this analysis is that evolution has provided not only bioactive metabolites that plants use to fight their foes, but has also mixed them in a very auspicious combination of compounds, which in some cases also work well in mammals. To achieve a similar combination even by systematic bioguided mixing is a very tedious, lengthy and expensive procedure. Why not learn from nature and optimize the use of plant extracts?”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Pharmacodynamic Synergy & Natural Products for Malaria Control

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Natural products for the control of malaria

Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S1
BioMed Central

IV. Whole plant extracts versus single compounds for the treatment of malaria: synergy and positive interactions

Rasoanaivo P, Wright CW, Willcox ML, Gilbert B
Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S4
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3059462

Philippe Rasoanaivo of Institut Malgache de Recherches Appliquées and coauthors from the University of Bradford, the Research Initiative on Traditional Antimalarial Methods, the University of Oxford, and Fundação Oswaldo Cruz review positive interactions between components of whole plant extracts that may help to explain why crude plant extracts often have greater antiplasmodial/antimalarial activity than single compounds isolated from those extracts.

“There is evidence for several different types of positive interactions between different components of medicinal plants used in the treatment of malaria. Pharmacodynamic synergy has been demonstrated between the Cinchona alkaloids and between various plant extracts traditionally combined. Pharmacokinetic interactions occur, for example between constituents of Artemisia annua tea so that its artemisinin is more rapidly absorbed than the pure drug. Some plant extracts may have an immunomodulatory effect as well as a direct antiplasmodial effect. Several extracts contain multidrug resistance inhibitors, although none of these has been tested clinically in malaria. Some plant constituents are added mainly to attenuate the side-effects of others, for example ginger to prevent nausea.”

Rasoanaivo and his coauthors posit an evolutionary basis and possible mechanisms for pharmacodynamic synergy observed in crude extracts, and review evidence for the effect in traditional antimalaria products from a number of countries where malaria is endemic.

They recommend clinical trials of these products, including curcumin and Cinchona bark, and combinations of products (such as Artemisia annua leaves + Curcuma longa root + Piper nigum seeds).

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Clinical Activity – A New Starting-Point for Antimalaria Medicines

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Natural products for the control of malaria

Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S1
BioMed Central

III. Natural products as starting points for future anti-malarial therapies: going back to our roots?

Wells TN
Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S3
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3059461

Timothy NC Wells of MMV: Medicines for Malaria Venture reviews the history of “natural product scaffolds” that “have been the basis of the majority of current anti-malarial medicines” and recommends a change of approach in the search for new antimalarials:

“The relative paucity of new herbal medicinal product scaffolds active against malaria results discovered in recent years suggest it is time to re-evaluate the ‘smash and grab’ approach of randomly testing purified natural products and replace it with a patient-data led approach. This will require a change of perspective [from] many in the field. It will require an investment in standardisation in several areas, including: the ethnopharmacology and design and reporting of clinical observation studies, systems for characterizing anti-malarial activity of patient plasma samples ex vivo followed by chemical and pharmacological characterisation of extracts from promising sources. Such work falls outside of the core mandate of the product development partnerships, such as MMV, and so will require additional support. This call is timely, given the strong interest from researchers in disease endemic countries to support the research arm of a malaria eradication agenda. Para-national institutions such as the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDi) will play a major role in facilitating the development of their natural products patrimony and possibly clinical best practice to bring forward new therapeutics. As in the past, with quinine, lapinone and artemisinin, once the activity of herbal medicinal products in humans is characterised, it can be used to identify new molecular scaffolds which will form the basis of the next generation of anti-malarial therapies.”

Specifically, Wells proposes better exploitation of a key strategic advantage of herbal antimalarials; i.e., “that in several cases we know that there is an activity in patients”:

“Once the clinical activity of a herbal medicinal product is verified in observational studies, the anti-parasitic activity of the plasma samples on parasites could be confirmed ex vivo, and characterization of the decoction and the plasma samples using mass spectrometry and HLPC separations. Once the active ingredients are identified it is likely that medicinal chemistry will be needed to optimize it for clinical use.”

“By making the most of the potential for clinical data,” Wells concludes, “It is possible that [natural products] could continue to influence our thinking for the next century.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

New Models for Development of Antimalaria Drugs from Natural Products

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Natural products for the control of malaria

Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S1
BioMed Central

II. How can natural products serve as a viable source of lead compounds for the development of new/novel anti-malarials?

Guantai E, Chibale K
Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S2
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3059460

Eric Guantai and Kelly Chibale of the University of Cape Town begin by noting that “other than compounds that have their foundation in historic natural products, there are no other compounds in drug discovery as part of lead optimization projects and preclinical development or further that have originated from a natural product start-point in recent years”:

“Unfortunately the current reality is that other than compounds that have their foundation in historic natural products (such as quinine, artemisinin, hydroxynaphthoquinones, doxycyclin, clindamycin, and azithromycin), there are no other compounds in preclinical development or further that have originated from a natural product start-point in recent years. There are not even any compounds in current anti-malarial lead optimization projects that have come from natural products in recent years. Many natural products have shown potent anti-plasmodial effects but, for a variety of reasons, including chemical tractability issues, these have not been pushed forward into hit-to-lead drug discovery projects.”

Guantai and Chibale then review several approaches from outside the field of malaria that “could be considered in enhancing the potential of natural products to provide or inspire the development of anti-malarial lead compounds,” including: drug combinations; dual drugs/drug hybrids; metabolism and metabolite identification studies; molecular modeling and docking tools; natural product-derived pharmacophores (group of atoms in the molecule responsible for the drug’s action) and template-based virtual screening; natural product databases; and target-identification and reverse pharmacology.

Citing evidence from these approaches of “the potential of natural products to provide or inspire the development of anti-malarial lead compounds,” the authors recommend collaboration across diverse scientific disciplines in the search for novel agents for development:

“The potential of natural products to provide or inspire the development of anti-malarial lead compounds is, therefore, really quite evident. However, to raise the chances of the actual realization of this potential, it has become necessary to think beyond the confines of conventional natural-product drug discovery. The application of a wide variety of scientific tools and the close and interactive collaboration of experts in diverse scientific disciplines (such as chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology and genetics) has become practically obligatory if these truly multi-disciplinary efforts are to indeed be successful. The fact that literature on the application of some of these approaches towards anti-malarial drug discovery based on natural products is sparse is indicative of their underutilization in this regard, a situation that should arguably be addressed.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Natural Products for the Control of Malaria

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Natural products for the control of malaria

Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S1
BioMed Central

PubMed recently posted several articles from a 2011 supplement to Malaria Journal devoted to natural products for the control of malaria, so I’ve taken the opportunity to look at the entire issue.

Edited by Hagai Ginsburg of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and funded with contributions from the African Network for Drugs & Diagnostics Innovation, Department of Primary Health Care at University of Oxford, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, MMV – Medicines for Malaria Venture and University of Cape Town, the supplement surveys a number of topics related to the use of natural compounds in the development of antimalarial treatments.

I’ll address the articles one at a time, starting with the editor’s introduction.

I. A call for using natural compounds in the development of new antimalarial treatments – an introduction

Ginsburg H, Deharo E
Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S1
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3059457

In this introduction, supplement editor Hagai Ginsburg and Eric Deharo of the Université de Toulouse and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement argue for a revisiting of old approaches to the development of antimalarial drugs.

From the abstract:

“Natural compounds, mostly from plants, have been the mainstay of traditional medicine for thousands of years. They have also been the source of lead compounds for modern medicine, but the extent of mining of natural compounds for such leads decreased during the second half of the 20th century. The advantage of natural compounds for the development of drugs derives from their innate affinity for biological receptors. Natural compounds have provided the best anti-malarials known to date. Recent surveys have identified many extracts of various organisms (mostly plants) as having antiplasmodial activity. Huge libraries of fractionated natural compounds have been screened with impressive hit rates. Importantly, many cases are known where the crude biological extract is more efficient pharmacologically than the most active purified compound from this extract. This could be due to synergism with other compounds present in the extract, that as such have no pharmacological activity. Indeed, such compounds are best screened by cell-based assay where all potential targets in the cell are probed and possible synergies identified. Traditional medicine uses crude extracts. These have often been shown to provide many concoctions that deal better with the overall disease condition than with the causative agent itself. Traditional medicines are used by ~80 % of Africans as a first response to ailment. Many of the traditional medicines have demonstrable anti-plasmodial activities. It is suggested that rigorous evaluation of traditional medicines involving controlled clinical trials in parallel with agronomical development for more reproducible levels of active compounds could improve the availability of drugs at an acceptable cost and a source of income in malaria endemic countries.”

For malaria research, Ginsburg and Deharo propose a shift in the drug discovery paradigm from ‘finding new-entity drugs’ to ‘combining existing agents’. Reviewing the current literature on drug leads for novel plant-based antimalarials, they note a bias against studying the biological activity of crude extracts and favoring the screening of purified compounds – potentially missing the effect of synergistic combinations that might have arisen over the natural history of the plant-based therapy. They also address significant limitations of the prevailing model of rational drug development, in which a thorough understanding of a disease’s pathogenesis and the mechanism of a therapy’s action is the primary, if not exclusive, driver of discovery:

“Testing the effects of extracts usually doesn’t divulge the drug target or its mode of action. But if the extract is working well is it really important as to know the precise mode of action? In the context of anti-malarials, it is relevant to underscore the fact that till this very day, the mechanism of action of two of the most efficient drugs derived from traditional medicine, artemisinin and quinine, is still debatable.”

In their conclusion, Ginsburg and Deharo introduce a third key theme for this supplement, a review of scientific and pharmacological evidence to provide a “basis for further development of ethnic/traditional medicine as a valid, cheap and locally-available means to treat malaria.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Madagascar Periwinkle – A Potential Eco-Friendly Mosquito Pesticide

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Larvicidal efficacy of Catharanthus roseus Linn. (Family: Apocynaceae) leaf extract and bacterial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis against Anopheles stephensi Liston

Panneerselvam C, Murugan K, Kovendan K et al
Asian Pac J Trop Med
2013 Nov;6(11):847-53
PubMed PMID: 24083578

Investigators at Bharathiar University (Tamil Nadu) and National Taiwan Ocean University investigated the larvicidal activity of Catharanthus roseus leaf extract and Bacillus thuringiensis against the mosquito Anopheles stephensi, an important vector of malaria in Indian cities.

From the Introduction:

“In India, malaria is transmitted by six vector species, in which Anopheles stephensi (An. stephensi) is responsible in urban areas. Mosquitoes in the larval stage are attractive targets for pesticides because they breed in water; thus, it is easy to deal with them in this habitat. Management of disease vector using synthetic chemicals has failed because of resistance, effect on non-target organisms and environmental pollution. On the other hand, the recent public perception against the vector control using synthetic chemicals has shifted the research effort towards the development of environmentally sound and biodegradable agents. In that way, plant extracts including essential oils have attracted much attention to control the vector transmitted diseases.”

Madagascar Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus)
Madagascar Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) [Source: Wikimedia Commons user: Biswarup Gangulyb]
C. roseus (Madagascar periwinkle) is an important medicinal plant; for example, it is the source of two anti-cancer drugs, vincristine and vinblastine. It contains alkaloids known to have hypotensive and antispasmodic properties.

The team found that C. roseus extract and B. thuringiensis both have potential to be used as eco-friendly agents for the control of An. stephensi in vector control programs, and that the combined treatment with the plant extract and bacterial toxin has better larvicidal efficacy against An. stephensi than either agent alone:

“In conclusion, the larvicidal potentiality of the crude extracts of C. roseus and B. thuringiensis was studied in the laboratory as well as field conditions. The C. roseus leaf extract and B. thuringiensis have been shown to be effective mosquito control agents. These results show that these two biological agents could reduce the malarial incidence. It also divulges the presence of active metabolites which are causes of larval mortality. Therefore, the botanicals are one of the best alternatives for chemical insecticides and are also ecofriendly bio-pesticides which create a healthy environment.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Anti-Malaria Activity of Three Zulu Medicinal Plants

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Anti-plasmodial activity of some Zulu medicinal plants and of some triterpenes isolated from them

Mthokozisi B. C. Simelane, Addmore Shonhai, Francis O. Shode, Peter Smith, Mogie Singh and Andy R. Opoku
Molecules
2013 Oct 8;18(10):12313-23
PubMed PMID: 24108397
Mimusops caffra
Mimusops caffra (Source: Wikimedia Commons User Michaelwild)

Researchers at the University of Zululand, University of Cape Town, and University of KwaZulu-Natal analyzed crude extracts and specific isolates of three medicinal plants used by the Zulu people as treatments for malaria, for activity against Plasmodium falciparum (one of the parasites that causes malaria in humans): Mimusops caffra, Mimusops obtusifolia, and Hypoxis colchicifolia.

The team verified anti-malaria activity of M. caffra in particular, which though not as high as that reported for the standards (chloroquine and artesunate), was found to be dose dependent, and with low toxicity levels, and encouraged continued exploration of M. caffra in managing malaria in traditional medicine.

From the Introduction:

“Malaria is one of the major health problems in tropical Africa, South-east Asia, Central South America and Oceania. Despite the various efforts by governmental and non-governmental organizations aimed at eradicating the disease, malaria is said to kill a child every 30 s. Malaria cases have been reported in other areas of the World that were previously considered eradicated of malaria. In Africa, herbal medicines are an important part of the culture and traditions of its people.
“Traditional healers use different concoctions prepared from medicinal plants to treat malaria. Given the remarkable anti-malarial properties of Cinchona bark that have been known for more than 300 years, resulting in the discovery of quinine and the more recent development of artemisinin derivatives, the potential of plant species to provide effective drugs for the treatment of malaria cannot be overemphasized. Furthermore, the drug resistance of the malaria parasite to chloroquine and sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine, and also the toxicity of the currently available drugs have stimulated the search for alternative medicines which are naturally derived. In addition, modern health care to the rural people is still a far-reaching goal, due to economic constraints and many vulnerable groups depend on plant-based traditional healing. The anti-malarial activity of many plants has been reported. An ethonobotanical survey revealed the extensive utilization of M. caffra, M. obtusifolia and H. colchicifolia for the management of malaria in Zulu traditional medicine.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.