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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Can ethnopharmacology contribute to the development of antimalarial agents?

The resistance of Plasmodium falciparum, the cause of tertian malaria, to synthetic antimalarials, together with the resistance of the vector mosquitoes to insecticides, has resulted in a resurgence in the use of quinine and a search for new antimalarial agents. In recent years, artemisinin, isolated from Artemisia annua which is used in Chinese traditional medicine for the treatment of malaria, has proved to be effective in the treatment of cerebral malaria due to chloroquine-resistant strains of P. falciparum. The development of in vitro tests utilising P. falciparum obtained from malaria patients means that it is possible to use bioassay guided fractionation of active extracts in order to isolate active principles. A number of laboratories throughout the world are currently investigating plants used in traditional medicine for their active constituents. Some of their results will be described and in particular two aspects of our investigations with species of Simaroubaceae and Menispermaceae will be discussed. There is every possibility that such approaches which use leads from Ethnopharmacology will result in the development of new antimalarial agents. It is vitally important to those populations relying on traditional medicines for the treatment of malaria that the safety and efficacy of such medicines be established, their active principles determined and that reproducible dosage forms be prepared and made available for use.[1]


  1. Can ethnopharmacology contribute to the development of antimalarial agents? Phillipson, J.D., Wright, C.W. Journal of ethnopharmacology. (1991) [Pubmed]
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