Cancer Drugs May Bring an End to Malaria According to Research


Cancer Drugs May Bring an End to Malaria According to Research
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Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that affects millions of people around the world each year, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Millions reportedly die of malaria-related illnesses every year. This makes malaria a major health challenge in the affected regions.

Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium with the most dangerous specie being Plasmodium falciparum (dominant in the Sub-Saharan Africa).

There are several drugs currently available on the market for malaria treatment, unfortunately, only a few are effective against the protozoan. This is so because certain plasmodium have developed resistance to most available drugs. For instance, the antimalarial drug artemisinin, which is used to treat severe malaria, is derived from the Chinese herb Artemisia annua. This medicine which exists in different forms such as the generic Artemether and Lumefantrine combination has begun to fail in some individuals. This calls for more research for the most effective and affordable cure for malaria that can beat resistant strains of the parasite.

A team of researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) is exploring ways to produce malaria medicines using similar ingredients as cancer drugs. In a recent publication, the researchers confirm that malaria can be treated with cancer treatment formulae like protein kinase inhibitors (PIs).

Protein Kinase Inhibitors are drugs that block the activity of enzymes called protein kinases. Protein kinases are enzymes involved in a variety of cellular processes, including cell growth and division and they play key roles in the biochemical cycles of the cells such as the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) needed for cellular respiration and energy production. 

During the initial study, the researchers discovered that certain PIs can kill malaria parasites. This inspired them to conduct further research to determine the best protein inhibitors to use for malaria treatment as well as the dosing and administration schedule, such that will not have adverse effects on the body.

The success possibility of using cancer drugs to treat malaria, according to a Phase 2 clinical trial, is nearly 100%. This is because protein inhibitors have already been extensively tested on humans, making them relatively safe and well-tolerated. In addition, they can be produced relatively quickly and cheaply, which could help make them more accessible to people in developing countries.

The outcome of this research will bring a long-anticipated solution to malaria-inflicted regions and save millions of lives around the globe.

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