Hope rises as study unveils African anti-dote for malaria parasite
There is fresh hope of halting the over 212 million new cases of malaria and an estimated 429 000 deaths, as European scientists have discovered substances from the bark of two African plants that can kill both the mosquitoes that transmit the disease and the parasite itself.
Malaria is a disease caused by tiny parasites of the genus Plasmodium, which spend part of their life cycles in the blood vessels of humans and other mammals. The parasite is transmitted between humans during bites from mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles.
The cheery news was contained in a study conducted by researchers at the School of Pharmacy, University of Oslo, Norway and published yesterday in ScienceDaily although first reported in Malaria Journal.
The scientists discovered several interesting substances both in the so-called Olon (local name) tree (Zanthoxylum heitzii) found between Cameroon and Congo, and in a related tree from Mali to Nigeria. The most interesting and active compounds were located in the Olon tree, but also the bark of Zanthoxylum zanthoxyloides from Mali and Nigeria contains active substances.
Zanthoxylum zanthoxyloides formerly called Fagara zanthoxyloides is a very popular plant in Nigeria commonly used as chewing stick and in the treatment of sickle cell anaemia and tooth cavities.