Dried Leaves Of Artemisia Annua Plant Treated 18 Patients With Drug-Resistant Malaria

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Apr 25, 2017 12:31 PM EDT

The dried and powdered leaves of a certain plant treated 18 critically ill patients with drug-resistant malaria. (Photo : Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Malaria No More)

Physicians in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo clinic successfully treated 18 critically ill patients with drug-resistant malaria. They used a not-yet-approved malaria therapy derived only from dried leaves of the Artemisia annua plant.

According to Medical Xpress, all the patients fully recovered in just five days. This is a small but an amazing success trial that provides hope of a solution to the increasing problem of drug-resistant malaria.

The patients aged between 14 months to 60 years manifested symptoms of malaria parasite infection. A recommended medication, which is the artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) was initially introduced to them. The treatment was combined with artemisinin; a chemical extract from Artemisia annua alongside one or more other drugs that fight the malaria parasites in various ways.

Unfortunately, the patients did not respond to the standard malaria therapy. They all lead to more serious malaria infection that includes fainting, respiratory upset, convulsions, and pulmonary edema. One five-year-old child indeed up being comatose and even artesunate, a drug for severe malaria didn't treat their conditions.

The doctors as a last resort then used dried-leaf Artemisia (DLA), a treatment developed and deeply studied by Weathers and her team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Surprisingly, all the18 patients fully recovered after five days of treatment with the tablets made from only the dried and powdered leaves of Artemisia. Laboratory test results showed negative malaria parasites in their blood.

The details of the cases were reported in the paper "Artemisia annua dried leaf tablets treated malaria resistant to Artemisinin-based compound therapy (ACT) and i.v. artesunate: case reports." An international group of researchers led by Pamela Weathers, Ph.D., who is a professor of biology and biotechnology at WPI, developed the DLA.

"To our knowledge, this is the first report of dried-leaf Artemisia annua controlling ACT-resistant malaria in humans.” More in-depth clinical trials on patients with drug-resistant malaria were also undertaken, the authors on the Phytomedicine paper said.

"Successful treatment of all 18 ACT-resistant cases suggests that DLA should be rapidly incorporated into the antimalarial regimen for Africa," they added, "and possibly wherever else ACT resistance has emerged."

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