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Can mouthwash stop malaria?

Triclosan, a common ingredient of mouthwashes, inhibits the growth of Plasmodium falciparum in vitro and P. berghei in a mouse model. Resistance is rapidly developing to the few remaining anti-malarial drugs and thus new therapies are urgently needed. In the February Nature Medicine, researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, India, investigate the commonly used antibiotic Triclosan as an effective treatment for malaria.Namita and Avadhesha Suriola found that an i

By | February 2, 2001

Triclosan, a common ingredient of mouthwashes, inhibits the growth of Plasmodium falciparum in vitro and P. berghei in a mouse model.

Resistance is rapidly developing to the few remaining anti-malarial drugs and thus new therapies are urgently needed. In the February Nature Medicine, researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, India, investigate the commonly used antibiotic Triclosan as an effective treatment for malaria.

Namita and Avadhesha Suriola found that an injection of Triclosan completely cleared P. berghei from a mouse model of malaria. They determined that Triclosan is effective because it inhibits the action of a parasitic enzyme called FabI. This enzyme is part of the P. falciparum type II fatty acid biosynthesis pathway and is similar to the FabI enzyme that exists in plants and algae. It is likely that the site of fatty acid synthesis in the malarial parasite is the plastid organelle, thought to be derived by endosymbiotic incorporation of a primitive alga by the parasite, and which has been suggested as an important target for the development of novel anti-malarials.

Triclosan is currently used in mouthwashes, anti-acne preparations and deodorants.

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