Pharmacists in Ethiopia and Germany have studied Ranunculus multifidus, a yellow-flowered buttercup that has been used in traditional medicine against malaria, and say it shows promise, especially with the emergence of chloroquine-resistant strains.
Every year more than 400,000 people pass away malaria – a preventable and treatable disease. It is estimated that two-thirds of deaths involve children under five.
WHO said that the African region “bears more than 90% of the global burden of disease”.
While the death toll has fallen, progress has slowed, not least due to lack of funding, with the added stress of Covid-19 to top it all off. As a result, scientists are scrambling to find new ways to treat the disease.
A medicinal plant from the buttercup family relieved the symptoms of malaria. In some parts of Africa, a tea made from the leaves of Ranunculus multifidus is already used to treat malaria. Scientists wanted to study the plant to see if it actually helped treat malaria.
“Until now, it was not known which ingredients the plant contains and which of them could have a healing effect,” says Professor Kaleab Asres from Addis Ababa University. Asres was already aware of the traditional use of the plant and initiated the study.
The plant active ingredient anemonin, according to a Press release, could possibly bring “a new approach” in the treatment of malaria. Excerpts from Ranunculus multifidus “significantly alleviated the symptoms of infected mice,” the team from Arba Minch University (AMU), Addis Ababa University (AAU) and Martin Luther Halle-Wittenberg University (MLU) report in the journal Molecules.
Pharmacists infected lab mice with a particular type of parasite that causes malaria in rodents, as opposed to the parasite that causes malaria in humans. Next, they used plant leaf extracts and tested their effectiveness on mice.
“We infected the animals with the Plasmodium berghei parasite, which causes malaria in certain rodents including mice. In humans, malaria is caused by related species of plasmodia“says Betelhem Sirak of Arba Minch University.
The mice were divided into several categories: one group received no anemonine at all, but was treated with chloroquine, “an established and effective drug for treating malaria”. Other groups received varying doses of anemone, from the buttercup plant. The press release emphasizes that the experiments “were conducted in accordance with internationally recognized guidelines for the keeping and care of laboratory animals.”
The results raised hope: “Although the extracts did not work as well as chloroquine, they nevertheless had a clearly positive effect on the course of the disease. For example, the mice lost significantly less weight and their body temperature was also more stable than without”. treatment,” says Professor Peter Imming of MLU.
Scientists were able to extract the anemonine from Ranunculus multifidus, even if the plant “doesn’t actually contain any,” Imming says. “Anemone forms when the plant is injured, such as when it is crushed and the inside of its cells come into contact with the air,” Imming continues. They imagine this is why extracts prepared by crushing the plant have shown the most promise.
Although they don’t know for sure, the scientists believe that the anemonine, like chloroquine, “affects the parasite’s metabolism,” the press release notes, but “probably attacks it in a different place.” This is an important finding because the parasites that cause malaria, plasmodiahave developed resistance to the main drug of choice, chloroquine, in parts of East and West Africa.
“The anemonine might have the potential to bypass this resistance,” says Imming. Yet because the way it works on plasmodia is unknown at this time, more studies are needed to find out how and why it works, and to increase its effectiveness. If the studies are successful, human tests will need to be carried out over several years to confirm its effectiveness in patients with malaria.
It was the live (tested on live animals). The researchers also did some in vitro (tested in a test tube) studies to see if the anemonine of Ranunculus multifidus works against other diseases against which it is used in traditional healing practices.
They tested anemone on bacteria similar to tuberculosis, but the plant extract was found to be ineffective. This was not a cause for concern, however, as Imming explains that “a substance that attacks all cell types would also attack human cells – and is therefore a poison”.
The researchers also investigated whether the anemonine would work against two common parasite species, leishmania and schistosome in one different study recently published in Molecules. They write that “the results obtained in this investigation indicate that the anemonine has the potential to be used as a model to design new antileishmanial and antischistosomal agents. pharmacophores.” In short, the anemonine could one day be used to fight leishmania and schistosome parasitic infections too.
Source: World TRT