Washington: Seaweed emits a natural chemical response to ward off fungi that would otherwise colonize an injured plant, a process that could help the search for anti-malaria drugs, a US scientist said.Up to a million people per year die from malaria, which can be caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, and new drugs are needed because the parasite is developing resistance to popular pharmaceuticals."There are only a couple of drugs left that are effective against malaria in all areas of the world, so we are hopeful that these molecules will continue to show promise as we develop them further as pharmaceutical leads," said scientist Julia Kubanek, an associate professor at Georgia Tech.
"We can co-opt these chemical processes for human benefit in the form of new treatments for diseases that affect us."However, more research needs to be done before the process can be turned into a drug for humans, and studies on mice are planned next."As with other potential drug compounds, however, the likelihood that this molecule will have just the right chemistry to be useful in humans is relatively small," said the study.The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health as part of a long-term study of chemical signaling among organisms in coral reefs.In January, the World Health Organization launched a global plan to halt the spread of resistance to artemisinin, a key compound of new malaria drugs, warning that not acting would be "catastrophic."Resistance has emerged in areas on the Cambodia-Thailand border, while a spread to other areas in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam is suspected.The WHO said more than 175 million dollars in funding would be required for research and to contain the resistance in these areas.Bureau Report
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