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New malaria therapies on the horizon
In a collaborative project on malaria therapy, scientists at the Universities of Bayreuth/Germany and Jerusalem/Israel have developed both a new agent, “Artemisone”, and a new method with which the agent can be administered to the patient in a dose that has been precisely attuned to the individual disease pattern. The results have now been published in the Global Challenges journal. The research was part of a project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with a total of around 1.5 million euros over five years.
Reliable and flexible: minute fibres allow optimum dosages
In order to be able to flexibly adapt the progression of a malaria therapy to an individual disease pattern, the scientists in Bayreuth placed the agent Artemisone, developed at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, on special polymer fibres. These fibres are roughly 100 times thinner than a human hair. As soon as they come into contact with a standard infusion liquid containing surfactants, the Artemisone is gradually released. The level of the Artemisone dose entering the bloodstream can be controlled in a simple manner.
Thus the method fundamentally differs from already existing approaches to develop a programmed release for anti-malarial agents. Research focused on the issue of how these agents could be released in a controlled manner within the human organism. Implants and special encapsulations of tablets were above all considered for this purpose. “These approaches met with difficulties, and attempts to overcome them have not been convincing so far. Our method differs from others because we provide for the release of the agent in advance. It already takes place in the infusion system, outside the organism,” Professor Andreas Greiner of the University of Bayreuth explains.
Effective help for malaria patients in the tropics
The new therapy method of the University of Bayreuth draws on examinations by other research institutions at which the agent Artemisone was tested with very promising results. Preclinical tests at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem showed that Artemisone has clear advantages compared to the agent Artemisinin, which has so far been used to treat malaria infections. Professor Jacob Golenser of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem hopes that the new agent could be permitted for the treatment of malaria infections in the not too distant future.
Is the anti-malarial method developed in Bayreuth and Jerusalem also accessible to developing countries and emerging economies? The fibres needed for the process are manufactured via the electric spinning of fleece, which is nowadays a common industrial process. According to the scientists in Bayreuth and Jerusalem, loading Artemisone onto the fibres and putting them into the drip chamber of an infusion set is not very expensive. The correspondingly prepared infusion sets could well be affordable in developing countries and emerging economies, where it has so far not been possible to provide adequate treatment for many patients. If hospitals and malaria centres are equipped with standard infusion apparatus, their patients may soon have the chance to undergo effective therapy, the scientists hope.
Amir Reza Bagheri, Seema Agarwal, Jacob Golenser, and Andreas Greiner,
Unlocking Nanocarriers for the Programmed Release of Antimalarial Drugs,
Global Challenges (2017), DOI: 10.1002/gch2.201600011.
Photo source: CDC Global/ Flickr.com