Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass researchers develop novel malaria plant-based therapy

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






(malaria-disease.com)

(malaria-disease.com)

University of Massachusetts microbiology Professor Stephen Rich and UMass Ph.D. candidate Mostafa Elfawal have been working on a plant-based malaria drug that has the potential to replace the current treatments targeting the disease.

Malaria is a disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite and transmitted through infected mosquitoes. According to the World Health Organization, there were about 207 million cases of malaria in 2012, and an estimated 627, 000 deaths.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of artemisinin-based combination therapies, or ACTs, a type of treatment using a chemical found in the plant Artemisia annua.

Although relatively effective, ACTs tend to be expensive, limiting their availability in many countries affected by malaria, and they do not prevent the rapid emergence of drug-resistant pathogens.

The team, led by Rich, came up with an alternative that is significantly cheaper to produce and possibly a much better treatment than current ACTs. According to a release from Science Daily, this drug is made out of the dried leaves of the plant Artemisia, creating its own category of antimalarial artemisinin named pACTs.

The research group tested their plant-based drug in rodents to better observe the effects. The infected mice were treated with the drug designed by the researchers, while simulating the environmental and evolutionary conditions of the disease in the wild. According to Rich, he and Elfawal conducted a series of artificial selection experiments, in which their drug appear to be over three times more powerful than ACTs at preventing the parasites from becoming resistant.

This potentially means that the drug could offer a more permanent solution than the current methods, potentially making the drug last a longer time in circulation without being replaced, as stated by Rich.

“The capacity for our drug to slow down the rate of evolution of resistant parasites is what makes it promising for having a larger lifespan than other treatments,” Rich said.

Rich mentioned that although coming up with a cheap and efficient treatment for malaria is of great significance, the lack of a market for malaria drugs prevents them from experiencing significant competition with major pharmaceutical companies. However, one of their challenges is overcoming the skepticism of the scientific community.

“Our biggest obstacle right now is the prejudice from colleagues,” Rich said. “We came up with a very simple solution, which makes them think that it can’t be correct.”

According to Rich, the research team is currently receiving assistance from MassBiologics, a drug development and manufacturing group from UMass Medical School, to conduct experiments to prepare their treatment for phase one clinical trials.

The main goal of this team is to be able to translate their results into humans, hopefully offering a low cost, locally grown and more efficient approach that could facilitate the distribution of this drug to developing countries in which malaria is a critical problem.

Cecilia Prado can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @thececiliaprado.

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • UMass researchers develop novel malaria plant-based therapy

    Archives

    Design Building awarded LEED Gold certification

  • UMass researchers develop novel malaria plant-based therapy

    Archives

    Student activists demand Board of Trustees to recognize student debt crisis

  • UMass researchers develop novel malaria plant-based therapy

    Archives

    UMass President Marty Meehan to work with alums and state to lower tuition

  • UMass researchers develop novel malaria plant-based therapy

    Archives

    Six weeks after Pittsburgh, Hillel’s Rabbi Fine reflects

  • UMass researchers develop novel malaria plant-based therapy

    Archives

    SGA endorses letter of recommendation for racial justice practices on campus

  • UMass researchers develop novel malaria plant-based therapy

    Archives

    Homophobic and anti-Semitic incidents took place in Baker Hall last week

  • UMass researchers develop novel malaria plant-based therapy

    Archives

    The Collegian News Hour S2 E9: Semester Recap: Protests, top stories and police logs

  • UMass researchers develop novel malaria plant-based therapy

    Archives

    CCPH deals with a changing mental health landscape on college campuses

  • UMass researchers develop novel malaria plant-based therapy

    Archives

    UMass embraces winter with a Holiday Market

  • UMass researchers develop novel malaria plant-based therapy

    Archives

    Rang A Cappella hosts talent show to celebrate diversity

Navigate Right