How can a diabetes medication help fight malaria?
The research team of Maria Mota, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon and Executive Director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine, has achieved important results regarding the fight against Plasmodium, the single-celled protozoan parasite present in the female Anopheles mosquito.
Nowadays, the fight against this parasite is one of the greatest public health challenges: "there is no other living being on the planet - except for the human being himself - so effective at killing our species." Despite the steady progress, malaria continues to present frightening numbers. In 2012, about 200 million people were infected, of which 627 thousand died. At global level, the most affected areas are sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
This team’s approach aims to find weaknesses in the Plasmodium to dwindle it and consequently control it. According to Professor Maria Mota, "a parasite such as malaria has the ability to perceive its environment, namely the condition of the host", adapting "its replication and virulence according to what the host eats." The research team has found that metformin (a drug used for diabetes) somehow affects the replication of the parasite. "The parasite will probably not even create resistance, it will not go around to try to 'escape' it. Simply it will feel it is in a different environment and will live in a different way, which is more pleasant for us”, said the Professor in an interview with Diário de Notícias.
It is thus hoped that combining this approach with other therapies will lead to the elimination of the disease.
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Source and Image: Diário de Notícias Journal