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Palestinians discover local plant with surprisingly strong antimalarial properties.

January 20, 2014 - 13:25 -- Pierre Lutgen

The research team from the Al Quds University has already shown that some plants from Palestine have a strong inhibitory effect on beta-hematin crystallisation. Salvia officinalis (M Akkawi et al., Malaria Journal, 2012, 11-Suppl,P3) and Artemisiasieberi from Palestine ( M Akkawi et al. Brit J Pharmacol Toxicol, accepted 2013). The therapeutic effect of quinine, chloroquine, amodiaquine is precisely based on hemozoin inhibition. More recently together with P Lutgen from IFBV-Belherb they have been able to show that the infusion of Artemisia annua from Luxembourg or Artemisia afra from Tanzania even had stronger effects. And in some cases the stems were better than the leaves or the mixture of two plants stronger than a single one. (Paper submitted to J Medical and Aromatic Plantsby M Akkawi and P Lutgen in Oct 2013).

Recently the research team from Al Quds University with the cooperation of P Lutgen from IFBV-Belherb was surprised to find that the extract of Dittrichia viscosa (also called Virula viscosa) was a stronger antimalarial than any one of the previous plants. Not only in beta-hematin inhibition but also in vivo inhibition of Plasmodium parasites. The effect is probably related to the high concentrations of nerolidol in this plant. Nerolidol shows a stronger inhibition of hypoxanthine incorporation than quinine (ST Seatlholo, Thesis Univ Witwaterstrand, 2007). It’s antimalarial effect is potentiated by several other essential oils. A true polytherapy. The results will soon be published in a scientific journal. This discovery needs to be confirmed by further assays and we would be eager to cooperate with other research teams experienced in this field.

Mutaz Akkawi , Ibrahim Abbasi , Suhair Jaber , Qasem Aburemeleh and Pierre Lutgen

lutgenp@gms.lu