Natural compounds: the future of anti-malarial treatment

Mar 14, 2011

In the run up to World Malaria Day on the 25th April 2011, BioMed Central's open access journal Malaria Journal takes a long hard look at the development of natural compounds for use in the fight against malaria.

There are over 200 million cases of each year with 85% of all cases being children under five years old and, according to the World Health Organisation, in 2009 malaria was responsible for 781,000 deaths worldwide. Low cost treatment is available, 100 million children a year are treated with Artemisinin combination therapy at a cost of about 30 cents per child, but resistance of the parasite to this treatment is increasing. In the face of this resistance, researchers are turning to traditional medicine to provide a starting point for the development of .

Traditional remedies are widely used especially in areas of poverty or where there is no access to medical treatment. The combination of artemisinin, flavanoids, and other compounds which occur naturally in the leaves of Artemisia annua, increases the effectiveness of the treatment and decreases metabolism of the active ingredient. Curcumin (from turmeric) has anti-malarial properties and is being tested for use against . Adding piperine (from black pepper seeds) to curcumin increases the effectiveness of curcumin 2000 times. Plant extracts such as lemon eucalyptus, citronella, and neem oil also have use as insect repellents but are not as yet recommended for use by the .

Researchers suggest following the Research Initiative on Traditional Anti-Malarial Methods (RITAM), which shows a consensus of observational and laboratory results with clinical clearance of parasites. They also advocate the inclusion of native healers for the review of disease surveillance, ethnobotanical treatments, and changes in health care policy to increase the validity of these traditional medicines.

However, there is currently no concerted research into the effectiveness of as anti-malarials or as malaria prophylaxis. Consequently, there is a need for partnership organisations, such as African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDi), to promote standardisation in observing traditional remedies and the subsequent pharmacological purification and testing of compounds and combinations in the clinic.

Explore further: US official warns Ebola outbreak will get worse

More information: 1.1. A call for using natural compounds in the development of new antimalarial treatments– an introduction
Hagai Ginsburg and Eric Deharo
Malaria Journal (in Press)

1.2. How can natural products serve as a viable source of lead compounds for the development of new/novel anti-malarials?
Eric Guantai and Kelly Chibale
Malaria Journal (in Press)

1.3. Natural products as starting points for future anti-malarial therapies: going back to our roots?
Timothy NC Wells
Malaria Journal (in Press)

1.4. Whole plant extracts versus single compounds for the treatment of malaria: synergy and positive interactions
Philippe Rasoanaivo, Colin W Wright, Merlin L Willcox and Ben Gilbert
Malaria Journal (in Press)

1.5. Analysis of additivity and synergism in the anti-plasmodial effect of purified compounds from plant extracts
Eric Deharo and Hagai Ginsburg
Malaria Journal (in Press)

1.6. To what extent can traditional medicine contribute a complementary or alternative solution to malaria control programmes?
Bertrand Graz, Andrew Y Kitua and Hamisi M Malebo
Malaria Journal (in Press)

1.7. Do ethnobotanical and laboratory data predict clinical safety and efficacy of anti-malarial plants?
Merlin Willcox, Françoise Benoit-Vical, Dennis Fowler, Geneviève Bourdy, Gemma Burford, Sergio Giani, Rocky Graziose, Peter
Houghton, Milijaona Randrianarivelojosia and Philippe Rasoanaivo
Malaria Journal (in Press)

1.8. A "reverse pharmacology" approach for developing an anti-malarial phytomedicine
Merlin L Willcox, Bertrand Graz, Jacques Falquet, Chiaka Diakite, Sergio Giani and Drissa Diallo
Malaria Journal (in Press)

1.9. Traditional medicines as a mechanism for driving research innovation in Africa
Ivan Addae-Mensah, Foluke Fakorede, Andreas Holtel and Solomon Nwaka
Malaria Journal (in Press)

1.10. The plant-based immunomodulator curcumin as a potential candidate for the development of an adjunctive therapy for cerebral malaria
Patrice N Mimche, Donatella Taramelli and Livia Vivas
Malaria Journal (in Press)

1.11. Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing
Marta Ferreira Maia and Sarah J Moore
Malaria Journal (in Press)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Novel anti-malarial drug candidate found

May 25, 2010

As part of a multicenter study, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have identified a series of chemical compounds that might serve as starting points for the identification of new classes of anti-malarial drugs.

Rectal artemisinins rapidly eliminate malarial parasites

Mar 28, 2008

Artemisinin-based suppositories can help ‘buy time’ for malaria patients who face a delay in accessing effective, injectable antimalarials, according to research published in the online open access journal BMC Infectious Di ...

Malaria top killer in Congo

Apr 30, 2008

Health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say malaria is the primary cause of illness and death, despite prevention efforts.

WHO claims gains in global fight against malaria

Dec 14, 2010

(AP) -- A massive malaria control program since 2008 has helped reduce infections across Africa and eradicate the disease in Morocco and Turkmenistan, but a slowdown in funding risks undoing those achievements, the World ...

Recommended for you

US official warns Ebola outbreak will get worse

34 minutes ago

A third top doctor has died from Ebola in Sierra Leone, a government official said Wednesday, as a leading American health official warned that the outbreak sweeping West Africa would get worse before it ...

UN releases $1.5mn to help DR Congo fight Ebola

2 hours ago

The United Nations on Wednesday allocated $1.5 million (1.1 million euros) to help the Democratic Republic of Congo fight Ebola, just days after the country confirmed its first cases this year.

'Junk' blood tests may offer life-saving information

3 hours ago

Some 30 percent of all positive hospital blood culture samples are discarded every day because they're "contaminated"—they reflect the presence of skin germs instead of specific disease-causing bacteria.

Drug represents first potential treatment for common anemia

4 hours ago

An experimental drug designed to help regulate the blood's iron supply shows promise as a viable first treatment for anemia of inflammation, according to results from the first human study of the treatment published online today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society o ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 22, 2011
Good article and, by the way, the extract from curcuma longa or turmeric is called curcumin, not circumin!