Scientists discover that Brazilian plant berries counteract malaria in mice

Good news comes with regards to the fight against malaria at a time when it was discovered that the parasite that causes it is developing considerable resistance to many antimalarial drugs, in particular to chloroquine. According to a study published in ACS Omega, the extracts of acai berries, a plant native to Brazil, can decrease the number of malaria parasites in the blood and prolong the survival of malaria-affected mice.

This berry, similar to grapes, is already used in some areas of Brazil by traditional medicine healers to treat the symptoms of malaria. The berry boasts an antioxidant activity thanks to the presence of some polyphenols. Researchers Susanne Mertens-Talcott, Fabio Costa and colleagues, therefore, thought to extract these polyphenols from aҫaí berries to treat crops of malaria parasites in the laboratory.

They discovered that a particular class of polyphenols, phenolic denominated nonantocianinici, inhibited the growth of malaria parasites, including those resistant to chloroquine. In a second phase, they administered these polyphenols orally to mice infected with malaria. They found that this treatment reduced the malaria parasite load in the blood by as much as 89.4%. In addition, this treatment extended the life of malarial mice for more than 15 days compared to untreated mice.

According to the researchers, these acai extracts would interfere with the protein homeostasis of the parasites.

By Bob Miller

Bob was Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Denver from 2011-2018 and now works as a practicing psychiatrist. As a passionate scientist, he founded the website in early 2019 with the goal of delivering accurate and useful scientific reporting, and has since built it up as a valuable publication. While his field is in psychology, Bob also has a strong general understanding of many other fields in health, astronomy and applied science, and is able to write in a way that is easily understandable to the layman.

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