A unique drug that helps prevent relapse of malaria has been developed by a research group at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.
The sudden showers witnessed by the city recently has brought in fresh cases of malaria due to water logging, which act as breeding grounds for the malarial parasite.
Prof G Padmanabhan, who along with his research group, developed the unique drug combination says, “There must be a sense of urgency in developing indigenous and affordable diagnostic kits that can be used for malaria surveillance in the country.” The drug is a combination of Artemisin derivative (ART) and Curcumin, derived from turmeric, which behave as an immunomodulator that can prevent a relapse, a major issue with Vivax malaria and treating Falciparum cerebral malaria as an adjunct drug, he says.
Phase-I safety trials on humans have been done. The group has put a team of specialists together consisting of clinicians, pharmacologists etc in Orissa and are waiting for permission from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) to hold Phase-II efficacy trials.
All over the world, vaccines for malaria have failed to give more than 30 per cent protection for six months. This is because the organism mutates continuously and the antibodies produced because of the vaccine cannot recognise the surface of the malarial parasite, they cannot bind and kill it.
Unfortunately, the parasite has become resistant to most antimalarials, restricting the option to use Artemisinins (ARTs) for effective cure. As of now, malaria is treated with drugs like Artisonate (given orally) and a Sulfadoxine. Sporadic resistance to the combination is already seen. Therefore, it has become necessary to use ART-based combination therapies to delay emergence of resistance.
“Multi drug resistance in malaria is common in India,” says Dr Rajeeva Moger, senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore.
Dr Moger says, “When a patient tests positive for malaria, we assume he has a P falciparum infection and is resistance to drugs. We put him on a combination therapy of two or more drugs to treat him. This is standard procedure for treatment of malaria and we have followed it for more than the last five years.”