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   Nov 19

Traditional soups and broths could stop malarial infection | Science & Tech News | Sky News

Some traditional soups may be as effective as the leading antimalarial drugs in combating the disease.

Around 500,000 people die every year from malaria worldwide, many of them children, with hundreds of thousands more made seriously ill by the parasite, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes.

Half the world’s population is vulnerable to infection and resistance to conventional drugs appears to be increasing.

Researchers from Imperial College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital began investigating the possible impact of traditional cures after the discovery of the antimalarial artemesin in qinghao, a herb used in ancient Chinese medicine to combat fever.

The scientists found that some traditional vegetable and meat broths interrupted the life cycle of Plasmodium falciparum, the unicellular protozoan which causes 99% of deaths from malaria.

The study involved pupils from Eden Primary school in London being asked to bring in samples of homemade soup and broths made using family recipes passed down through generations.

The children’s ethnic backgrounds ranged from across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

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The researchers incubated extracts from 56 broths for three days with different cultures of Plasmodium falciparum to see if any could stop the growth of the sexually immature parasites.

They also assessed whether the samples could block sexual maturation – the stage at which the parasite can infect the mosquito.

Many samples were found to increase the rate of parasite growth. But five of the broths curbed growth by more than 50%, with two of them as effective as a leading antimalarial drug, dihydroartemisinin.

Four others were more than 50% effective at blocking sexual maturation, so potentially stopping malarial transmission.

Publishing the results in Archives of Disease in Childhood the authors said: “This journey, mirroring that of artemisinin from the qinghao herb, may as yet reveal another source of potent anti-infective treatment.”

The recipes of the vegetarian, chicken and beef-based broths varied, and no particular ingredient was common to those who demonstrated the strongest antimalarial activity.

They warned that the active ingredients in the broths studied are yet to be identified and tested in clinical trials.

Source: Sky News

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