A team of researchers led by University of Pretoria Professor Lyn Marie Birkholtz have made significant strides in fighting Malaria. The team found that chemical compounds present in Anti- TB and Cancer medications have the potential to stop the cyclic transmission of Malaria.
The two compounds are currently undergoing clinical tests. Professor Lyn Marie describes the Malaria causing parasite as a ‘shape shifter’ as its ability to quickly adapt to the human host’s body is what makes breaking the cycle of transmission a difficult task.
“This is the first time that these compounds were shown to have activity against malaria parasites and since they are not toxic to humans, they show the potential to be developed as antimalarials for both the treatment and elimination of the disease,” says Birkholtz.
The parasite uses the human host as a point of entry into mosquitos once again so as to transmit Malaria to other human hosts. Preventive measures are the most commonly used weapon against Malaria infections. However, research now aims at preventing the movement of the parasite from one host to another.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) aims to eliminate malaria in the region by 2030. For this goal to be achieved, medical interventions need to extend further than regular artemisinin treatments. Artemisinin is originally derived from the wormwood herb and has the ability to kill the parasite throughout all stages of its lifecycle. Overuse of this chemical has however led to resistance from the parasite.