Cassian Baliarsingh

In a major breakthrough, the Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), Bhubaneswar has successfully discovered therapeutic interventions which can prevent cerebral and severe malaria mortality.

Under the stewardship of ILS scientist Dr. Arun Nagraj, his team has discovered the drugs for brain malaria which is termed a milestone achievement for the malaria-prone areas of the state and the society as a whole.

In the initial phase, the team tested the medicine in a mouse and it turned out to be a success. Very soon, Arun and his team of scientists are planning to start the clinical trial in a human, reports said

Malaria remains a major global health concern. The most vulnerable populations include pregnant women and children less than five years of age. In spite of global efforts to roll back malaria, there is no significant reduction.

Scientist Arun and his team aimed at identifying new therapeutic interventions discovered a novel role for parasite ‘Heme’ in malaria severity. Parasites lacking the ability to make heme generate less hemozoin, and do not cause cerebral and severe malaria in animal models.

Parasite heme is important for food vacuole function and hemozoin formation. Further, they show that targeting parasite heme with griseofulvin – A FDA- approved antifungal drug, prevents cerebral and severe malaria in mice.

Griseofulvin is a less-expensive and safe drug, prevents cerebral and severe malaria in mice. Griseofulvin is a less expensive and safe drug that is widely used to treat fungal infections in children and adults. 

Therefore, repurposing griseofulvin as an adjunct drug for malaria along with the existing frontline ACTs would help to prevent malaria mortality. This study was published in Nature Communications and Indian and international patents have been filed.

ILS will very soon perform clinical trials in malaria-infected humans.


(Reported by Kapilendra Pradhan, OTV)