- Malaria is a common mosquito-borne infection and the World Health
Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 212 million persons
contracted malaria in 2015 alone.
- Drug resistance in treating malaria is a major public health
concern and can cause even death.
- New plant-based therapy made from dried-leaf
Artemisia (DLA) shown to have cured 18 critically ill and almost dying
patients suffering from drug-resistant malaria in Africa.
Drug-resistant malaria can be cured by
administration of plant-based
tablets made from dried-leaf Artemisia (DLA) in the Congo Republic of Africa
according to a report by Pamela Weathers, PhD, professor of biology and
biotechnology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), who has developed and
pioneered the use of dried leaves of Artemisia annua
of The Report
- The report is based on the entire
treatment history of 18 patients in the African Congo Republic, who were
diagnosed with malaria.
- They were initially given the
standard recommended artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), which consists of artemisinin, a
chemical extract from Artemisia annua, and a combination of
one or more drugs known to attack the malarial parasite in various ways.
- None of the patients ranging in age
between 14 months to 60 years responded to the standard ACT treatment, and
lapsed into severe malaria characterized by neurological symptoms,
respiratory distress, pulmonary edema and coma in a 5-year-old child.
- All were then treated with
intravenous artesunate, the frontline drug for severe malaria, but again
there was no response to this either.
- Finally, with no other option
doctors turned to dried-leaf Artemisia (DLA) tablets (as yet unapproved),
under the 'compassionate use' doctrine. This therapy has been developed and extensively studied by Weathers
and her team at WPI and made available in the poorest regions of Africa.
- Following five days of treatment
with tablets made from only the dried and powdered leaves of Artemisia, all 18
patients recovered completely.
- Laboratory testing revealed they had
no parasites remaining in their blood. (Weathers adds that more than 100
other drug-resistant patients have also been treated with DLA based
"These 18 patients were dying,"
Weathers said. "So to see 100 percent recovery, even the child who had
lapsed into a coma, was just amazing. It's a small study, but the results are
‘DLA (Dried-leaf Artemisia) based therapy should be urgently included in antimalarial regimen in Africa and elsewhere where resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is emerging.’
Status of Malaria and Antimalarial Treatment
febrile parasitic illness (Plasmodium spp) transmitted by mosquito bite.
According to WHO estimates more than 212 million contracted malaria in 2015 and
nearly half a million persons died.
At present nearly 100 countries in the
world have malarial transmission with about half the world's population under
threat. Young children and pregnant are particularly vulnerable. Most deaths are due to Plasmodium
falciparum and are reported from Africa
The recommended treatment currently is Artemisinin-based combination therapy
(ACT) following resistance of traditional anti-malarial treatment. However, it is expensive
to produce and emerging
cases of resistance to ACT
are also being reported especially from
of DLA Based Therapy - Based On Earlier Research By Dr Weathers
Dr Weathers has been working on DLA based therapy from Artemesia annua (
known as sweet wormwood) as possible antimalarial treatment for more than 25
years having been fascinated by its use as a herbal remedy for thousands of
years and preparation as a tea. She has published a number of articles in
reputed journals. Some of the possible advantages of DLA therapy over current
forms of treatment include the following.
- DLA based therapy delivers 40 times more
artemisinin to the blood than the drug made from the chemical extract of the
- It eliminates infection more effectively than current drugs and has been shown to cure
rodents that were resistant to artemisinin.
cost of production and ease of manufacturing with minimal training. In
has spearheaded establishment of units that manufacture, supply and do quality
testing of DLA based tablets in East Africa. This was the source of treatment
for the 18 critically ill patients.
- DLA based therapy has been found to be effective
against other diseases as well including cancers and other tropical illnesses.
Dr.Weathers explains that the superior
efficacy of DLA based therapy in malaria may be due to the presence of a
variety of phytochemicals in the dried leaf powder which could be acting in
synergy and increase artemisinin absorption into blood. Thus it is in essence a natural combination
remedy surpassing the effectiveness of ACT and other combination therapies
"We have done a lot of work to
understand the biochemistry of these compounds, which include a number of
flavonoids and terpenes, so we can better understand the role they play in the
pharmacological activity of the dried leaves," Weathers said. "The
more we learn, the more excited we become about the potential for DLA to be the
medication of choice for combatting malaria worldwide.
of DLA Based Therapy
The fantastic results of the trial
suggest that DLA based therapy should be part of the treatment regimen for
especially in areas where drug resistance is a problem. More research and trials in human patients
with resistant malaria may be necessary before the therapy is approved. However, it is indeed a godsend
to the developing countries where malaria is not only rampant, but a major killer disease, the
problem compounded by resistance to currently approved therapies.
- Nsengiyumva Bati Daddy, Luc Malemo Kalisya, Pascal Gisenya Bagire, Robert L. Watt, Melissa J. Towler, Pamela J. Weathers. Artemisia annua dried leaf tablets treated malaria resistant to ACT and i.v. artesunate: case reports. Phytomedicine, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.phymed.2017.04.006