News / Health

Mice Study Indicates Cholesterol Drug Might Help Treat Serious Malaria Cases

Jessica Berman
Each year, an estimated 500,000 children in sub-Saharan Africa develop the most serious form of malaria, so-called cerebral malaria.  Experts say many of those who do not die from this parasitic infection go on, years later, to develop memory problems and learning difficulties.  Now, researchers say these malaria-induced cognitive impairments may be averted with a commonly used cholesterol-lowering drug.

In a mouse model, an international research team has discovered that a cholesterol-lowering drug, called lovastatin, prevents the late cognitive problems seen in approximately 120,000 children throughout sub-Saharan Africa who survive cerebral malaria, which causes inflammation of brain and spinal tissue.  

In the study, researchers from the U.S. and Brazil treated a group of mice infected with the disease, using the standard anti-malarial drug, chloroquine.  Half of the animals also received lovastatin, according to study leader Guy Zimmerman, a researcher at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City.  
 
“The mice that got the anti-malarial drug and the lovastatin had a dramatically, significantly reduced incidence of the late brain dysfunction,” Zimmerman said.

Lovastatin is part of a family of drugs that reduces the body’s inflammatory response to infection.  Generated by the immune system, inflammation is a normal response to disease.  But occasionally, the body mounts an aggressive inflammatory response that attacks the body's own tissue.

Zimmerman says cognitive problems can mean a lifetime of challenges for children who've survived cerebral malaria.

“Trying to learn, if indeed they do have access to schools.  Trying to do that while they are still mired in poverty while they are still at risk for AIDS. And if you begin to think about what that could do to their long-term intellectual capacity and their ability to function in their local societies, it’s staggering,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman recommends lovastatin be added to treatments for malaria as well as for sepsis, a systemic blood infection commonly known as blood poisoning that sickens and threatens the lives of more people worldwide than cerebral malaria.

Zimmerman has asked government drug regulators to speed their review process, but says he’s not optimistic that the prerequisite human trials will be easy to conduct in far-flung regions of Africa, where malaria is prevalent.

An article on the use of anti-cholesterol medicine in the treatment of malaria is published in the journal PLoS Pathogens.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid