doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.22 Published online 15 February 2016
Researchers have discovered that a combination of garlic pearl oil and arteether, a semi-synthetic derivative of artemisinin, offers mice complete protection against malaria infection1 and is thus promising for developing low-cost antimalarial drugs.
The malaria parasite has developed resistance to the widely used antimalarial drug chloroquine. In addition, current antimalarial therapies that use artemisinin and other drugs are toxic and expensive. There is thus an urgent need to develop alternative therapies.
To develop a cheap and effective antimalarial therapy, the researchers probed the antimalarial activities of garlic pearl oil and arteether alone and in combination in mice infected with Plasmodium berghei, a parasite that causes malaria in mice.
Untreated infected mice died within four days. In contrast, infected mice treated with garlic oil survived for a week and those treated with arteether survived for three weeks.
Infected mice that received a combination of garlic oil and arteether were completely protected against the malaria parasite. The scientists found that garlic oil and arteether also eliminated the chances of further malaria infection in cured mice.
Garlic oil contains allicin, an antimicrobial compound that might inhibit the activity of cysteine proteases, a class of enzymes that help the parasite to invade red blood cells in mice. In addition, garlic oil and arteether boost the activities of specific antibodies that fight malaria infection, suggesting their potential as an efficient antimalarial therapy, the researchers say.
1. Govindan, V. P. et al. Assessment of in vivo antimalarial activity of arteether and garlic oil combination therapy. Biochem. Biophys. Rep. 5, 359–364 (2016)