oa CSIR Science Scope - Selecting from nature's pharmacy : botanical research leads show promise in the fight against malaria : malaria



In this approach to find a new malaria treatment, natural product chemists rely on their library of extracts of indigenous South African plants. They screen these extracts for activity against the malaria parasite. "In what is called a whole-cell assay, a red blood cell is infected with the malaria parasite, to see whether any extracts inhibit the growth of the parasite. An extract can be quite a complex mixture of compounds and the extracts are therefore fractionated - separated into components - to try and find the specific active compound in its purest form. It is not always simple, because it could also be a combination that acts against the malaria parasite," says research group leader, Dr Vinesh Maharaj.


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