A medicinal tea prepared by local African witch doctors and given to pregnant women when the time for birth arrives could lead to potential new drugs for many human diseases including AIDS, according to a new study.
Made from the leaves of a plant called "kalata-kalata," the tea speeds labour and delivery.
Scientists analysed the plant and discovered a remarkable new substance.
The study by David Craik, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, promises to turn kalata-like proteins, called cyclotides, into new drugs for treating health problems, such as antibiotic-resistant bacteria and even AIDS, which affect millions of people worldwide.
Craik, who discover the medicine while on a medical relief mission to Africa, is the winner of the 2011 ACS Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry.
The video of his research explains how cyclotides have a strong internal architecture that keeps them active when taken by mouth.