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Archive for the ‘TROPICAL DISEASES’ Category

Potent Plant powder power prevents malaria victims from dying

Monday, May 8th, 2017

So what is this plant?

Weathers has made several high-producing versions of the plant using tissue cultures  (Credit: Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

When 18 malaria patients in the Congo failed to respond to conventional treatments and instead continued to head toward terminal status, doctors knew they had to act fast – and try something different. So instead of turning to more synthetic drugs, they turned instead to nature and found a solution that delivered remarkable results.

The patients were first treated with the regimen described by the World Health Organization (WHO): artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). This drug combines an extract from a plant known as Artemisia annua, with other drugs that launch a multi-pronged attack on the malaria parasite. But just as is the case with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the malaria parasite is evolving to resist the drugs designed to kill it. In fact, according to the WHO, three of the five malarial parasites that infect humans have shown drug resistance.

As the patients continued to decline, with one five-year-old even entering into a coma, the doctors administered a drug called artesunate intravenously, which is the preferred course of action when treating severe malaria. The treatment didn’t work.

Finally, doctors turned to the Artemisia annua plant itself. Also called sweet wormwood or sweet Annie, the plant is the source of the chemical artemisinin, which is used in ACT therapy. The plant has been used since ancient times in Chinese medicine to treat fevers, although this bit of knowledge was lost until 1970 when the Chinese Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergency Treatments (340 AD) was rediscovered. In 1971 it was found that extracts from the plant could fight malaria in primates.

Pamela Weathers, professor of biology and biotechnology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute began researching Artemisia annua over 25 years ago. Along with postdoctoral fellow Melissa Towler, Weathers created a pill made from nothing more than the dried and powdered leaves of the plant. When the pills were given to the 18 dying patients over the course of five days, all of them completely recovered, with no trace of the malaria parasite remaining in their blood.

“These 18 patients were dying,” Weathers said. “So to see 100 percent recover, even the child who had lapsed into a coma, was just amazing. It’s a small study, but the results are powerful.”

Weathers had previously shown that the dried leaves of the Artemisia annua plant (DLA) could deliver 40 times more Artemisia annua to the blood than extracts of the plant alone. In a later experiment, she showed that not only could the leaves beat drug-resistant bacteria in mice, but that after passing the malaria parasite through 49 generations of mice, the parasite still showed no resistance to the plant.

While the exact mechanism through which DLA operates is unclear, Weathers says it’s likely due to the intricate chemical dance that occurs between the phytochemicals in the leaves.

Weathers with the Artemisia plant (Credit: Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

Because the drug is inexpensive and relatively simply to produce, Weathers also says that it could be a source of industry for people living in the areas where malaria is a problem, such as Ghana, Kenya and Malawi where it was recently announced that the first malaria vaccines will be deployed. “This simple technology can be owned, operated, and distributed by Africans for Africans,” said Weathers, who has already established a supply chain on the continent for the leaves using local producers.

Weathers also said that further research into DLA could lead to effective ways to combat other maladies.

“We have done a lot of work to understand the biochemistry of these compounds, which include a number of flavonoids and terpenes, so we can better understand the role they play in the pharmacological activity of the dried leaves,” Weathers said. “The more we learn, the more excited we become about the potential for DLA to be the medication of choice for combatting malaria worldwide. Artemisia annua is known to be efficacious against a range of other diseases, including other tropical maladies and certain cancers, so in our lab we are already at work investigating the effectiveness of DLA with other diseases.”

The results of the case in the Congo have been described in the journal Phytomedicine. You can hear more from Weathers in the video below.

Source: Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Henry Sapiecha

 

Viagra slows the spread of malaria, report shows

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Viagra does more than treat erectile dysfunction. Researchers have found it can slow the spread of malaria image www.newcures.info

Viagra does more than treat erectile dysfunction. Researchers have found it can slow the spread of malaria.

The little blue pill that gives men more oomph in the bedroom has an unexpected benefit – it can slow the spread of malaria.

Viagra doesn’t just have a stiffening effect on men’s anatomy, it also makes the one-celled parasite that causes malaria more rigid.

A team of European researchers have found that this effect deforms the red blood cells that transport the parasite, encouraging the spleen to clear them from the system.

viagra & malaria image www.newcures.info

With fewer infected red blood cells circulating the body, it becomes harder for one of the most common malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum, to be transmitted to an uninfected mosquito when it feeds on an infected person or animal.

Lead researcher Catherine Lavasec, from the Pasteur Institute in France, said there was a desperate need for novel interventions to target the transmission of the malaria parasite from a human host to the mosquito.

“Blocking Plasmodium falciparum transmission to mosquitoes has been designated a strategic objective in the global agenda of malaria elimination,” she said.

Normally, infected blood cells slip by the spleen because they are as squishy as healthy red blood cells.

Using an artificial spleen, the team found that certain drugs such as Viagra, also known as sildenafil, could stiffen these cells by inhibiting an enzyme that would normally make them squishy. The stiff cells are then cleared by the spleen.

As well as treating erectile dysfunction, Viagra has been used to lower blood pressure and relieve altitude sickness.

The research team said their findings are “proof of principle” that certain drugs can target malaria-infected red blood cells and these may be used as a new class of antimalarial drugs.

More than 198 million people were infected with malaria and more than 500,000 people died from the disease in 2013, according to the latest global estimates collected by the World Health Organisation.

The malaria parasite can only be transmitted by the females of certain varieties of mosquitoes from the Anopheles genus. Females need nutrients from a blood meal to develop their eggs.

The study was partly funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust and has been published in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens.

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Henry Sapiecha

 

EBOLA CURE CENTRE

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

The 10 Ebola treatment centers in West Africa are based on a design of three wards, which help separate patients suspected of having the disease from those with a confirmed diagnosis. Because there are not nearly enough such treatment centers, Liberia and the World Health Organization plan to set up much scaled-down versions, called community care centers, which will provide only rudimentary care. The community care centers would separate suspected and confirmed cases.

EbolaClinic structure image www.newcures.info

1…TriagePatients with symptoms suggesting an Ebola infection are examined in a tent by medical workers wearing protective clothing.

2…Low-probability ward Patients who might not have Ebola wait here for hours or days until tests reveal whether they have the virus.

3…High-probability wardIf the medical staff suspects that someone has Ebola, the person is cared for in this tent until test results are in.

4…Ebola wardConfirmed cases are treated here. Because no cure exists, the medical staff can provide only supportive care, which increases the chance of survival

5…Morgue In some areas, as many as 75 percent of Ebola patients die. Bodies are stored temporar-ily in a morgue until medical workers can bury them

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A…Dressing roomMedical staff entering the clinic put on protective equipment: dressing gown, apron, respirator, surgical cap, goggles, boots and two pairs of gloves. Clinic employ–ees work in twos, checking each other’s suits for tears or openings.

B…Undressing roomWorkers must undress very slowly and carefully to prevent infection, washing hands after removing each item of protective clothing. Some equipment can be reused after disinfection; other items are incinerated.

C…Patient exitRecovered patients take an antiseptic shower, put on clean clothes and step through decontamination basins before leaving the clinic. No longer infec–tious, they carry antibodies against the virus for as many as 10 years

D…Direct entryPatients with clear signs of an Ebola infection are taken straight to the Ebola ward, without going through triage.

E…Cemetery and incinerator Bodies are buried nearby but off site. Medical waste is burned a short distance away from the treatment center.

Henry Sapiecha

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THIS DISEASE CALLED KALA AZAR IS 100% FATAL IF LEFT UNTREATED VIDEO SHOWS

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

FATAL TROPICAL DISEASES OF AFRICA–KALA AZAR

Res staff at Leer Hospital in South Sudan face a battle in the treatment of the fatal disease, kala azar

Henry Sapiecha

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MALARIA HAS A CHANCE OF BEING DEFEATED IN THE TROPICS

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Virus May Act as ‘Evolution-Proof’

Biopesticide Against Malaria

Science (Aug. 21, 2010) — A naturally occurring virus in mosquitoes may serve as a “late-life-acting” insecticide by killing older adult mosquitoes that are responsible for the bulk of malaria transmission. The researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, detail their findings in the August 2010 issue of the Journal of Virology.


Malaria infects hundreds of thousands of people each year and is the cause of over a million deaths worldwide. Insecticides are one of the main strategies currently used to control malaria transmission, however, evolving resistance to such therapies continues to impact such efforts. “Late-life-acting” insecticides (LLAIs) are now being examined as a new approach for controlling malaria as they selectively kill older mosquitoes that spread the disease, while younger mosquitoes survive just long enough to reproduce.

“Reproduction allows for relaxation of evolutionary pressures that select for resistance to the agent,” say the researchers. “If resistance alleles exert fitness costs, there are theoretical scenarios under which resistance is not expected to evolve, leading some to provocatively term LLAIs as ‘evolution-proof’.”

Densonucleosis viruses (or densoviruses [DNVs]) are naturally occurring parvoviruses that have been identified in multiple mosquito species. Some DNVs typically infect during the larval stage and are lethal, however, in this study researchers suggest that the Anopheles gambiae densovirus (AgDNV) may infect at low levels during early life and replicate to lethal levels at adult age. Analysis following infection showed that although AgDNV levels increased modestly during larval development they still replicated slower resulting in significantly decreased virus levels during this stage. Additionally, virus levels greatly increased in 7-to-10-day-old adults.

“Ultimately, we expect that a properly engineered LLAI AgDNV can be deployed in the field to significantly modulate malaria transmission,” say the researchers.

Sourced & published  by Henry Sapiecha