News / Health

Drug Used to Treat Head Lice is Effective Against Malaria

Malaria researcher Brian Foy
Malaria researcher Brian Foy
Vidushi Sinha

Researchers have found that an inexpensive and widely-available drug used to treat river blindness in Africa and head lice in American school children is also effective in reducing malaria transmission, especially during seasonal epidemics of this worldwide scourge. 

“Can you kill a mosquito when it’s biting you [with] something that’s in your blood," asked Brian Foy.

Malaria researcher Brian Foy of Colorado State University found out that yes, you can.  He is working on a malaria control program and says there are many benefits to killing mosquitos as they bite their hosts.

Foy says that this not only is a clever way of getting a toxin directly to the malaria-causing parasite living in mosquitos, but it also saves the environment from harmful insecticides.

In a field study done on malaria transmission in Senegalese villages, Foy and his colleagues found that a drug already widely used for treating the two most common parasitic diseases in Africa - river blindness and elephantiasis - also has insecticidal properties.

“We are repurposing a really cheap and important drug for worm control potentially to control malaria," he said.

The study shows that after single doses of the drug Ivermectin were administered to residents of several Senegalese villages, there was a 79 percent reduction in mosquitoes found to be carrying the malaria parasite.  In villages where the drug was not given, the malarial mosquitoes increased by 246 percent.

Researchers found that the drug circulating in people’s blood killed the mosquitoes.  Ivermectin is given once every year in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa to fight common infections.  But researchers say that if the drug is given more often, it can provide other benefits.

“If you give it more often, [as] we are proposing for malaria transmission control, it will start to have an effect against the soil-transmitted illness that people have in their guts - things like whip worm, round worm and maybe even hookworms, which cause a lot of hidden illnesses in people," said Foy.

Peter Hotez, president of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, calls Foy's study groundbreaking.  He says it proves what many public health researchers have long suspected - that drugs used to combat neglected tropical diseases have important collateral health benefits.

“It opens up a new pathway for discovering an additional class of drugs specifically for this purpose - maybe a drug that can circulate in the body longer and then be better targeted for malaria specifically," said Hotez.

Malaria kills almost 800,000 people around the world each year.  Experts say Ivermectin would be a welcome addition to the anti-malaria arsenal of bed nets, pesticides, drugs and, perhaps one day soon, a vaccine.  Public health experts say all these weapons will be needed in the years ahead to eradicate malaria permanently.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Goghi
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid